Monday, March 08, 2010

Special efforts made to preserve lion gene pool

Special efforts made to preserve lion gene pool
Times of India

In order to preserve the indigenous population of Asiatic lions, the forest department has set up three genepools in Sakarbagh zoo, Rampara Sanctuary and Hingolgadh forests. These genepools would involve a few lion pairs bred in semi captive conditions with the purpose of maintaining genetic diversity.

This lion population bred in semi captive environment will later be transferred to their new home at the Barda lion sanctuary. The project has already begun. Genepool programmes were already incorporated in the annual plan of the department this year.
Sakarbagh zoo has been chosen as a nodal centre for this activity. The laboratory would have facilities for Cryopreservation of semen, DNA finger-printing and sequencing, microbiology and biochemical testing, while artificial insemination and embryo transfer would be on of the functions of the centre. The wildlife gene bank would act as a repository of genetic material of the Asiatic lions. The programme will be undertaken under the aegis of the Gujarat Biotechnology Mission.

Not only this, the special the task force has also proposed the use of Geographical Positioning System (GPS)-based system for surveillance, animal tracking and also tracking of vehicles that enter the Gir Sanctuary. The task force has proposed that all field level subordinates, that is, foresters, supervisory staff and senior officers be equipped with hand-held devices capable of voice, data and geo-coordinate transmission. Long-term data generated from the network would increase our understanding about the dispersal dynamics of large carnivores, the task force report said.

Regarding animal surveillance through GPS tracking, the task force has proposed approximately 10 per cent of the lion population to be fitted with GPS collars for tracking. In the initial phase, about 50 animals will be fitted with the GPS collars. Besides this an automated radio sensor grid, which would consist of miniaturised, weatherproof, concealed sensors networked set off an alarm in the event of an unwanted intrusion in the forest.

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