27 February, 2021

The Copycat Blueprint

Indian scientists plan to clone the cheetah, last seen in the wild here in 1948, but will they have enough habitats for it?

The Copycat Blueprint
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The Indian cheetah may run again, as Indian molecular wizards brace up to clone the fastest thing on four legs, extinct in the wild since 1948. At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of cheetahs raced across the grasslands of Africa, West Asia and India. Today, they survive precariously, chiefly in southern and eastern Africa, in the semi-arid Sahel region, south of the Sahara and in Iran. Estimates of their numbers range from 5,000 to 20,000. Another 1,000 cheetahs live in captivity around the world, 300-odd in North America.

The Indian cheetah, the favourite game-hunter of Mughal royals (Akbar had 1,000 cheetahs in his menagerie), was last seen in the wild in 1948 when three young males were shot dead by a hunting party in the jungles of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. The last captive Indian cheetah died in 1962.

Reviving the extinct cat is part of a much grander plan to clone and conserve endangered species, in particular the big cats. Scientists hope to take nature by surprise at the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species or Lacones, a...

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