Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coming soon in Gujarat: Gene bank for wildlife

Coming soon in Gujarat: Gene bank for wildlife
Hindustan times By Chetan Chauhan

Like humans the wildlife will soon have gene bank with a cloning facility. The environment ministry has accepted the Gujarat government's proposal to set up a gene bank for lions in a bid to protect them from the danger of inbreeding. Lions in wild are found only in Gir wildlife

sanctuary in Gujarat and state chief minister Narendra Modi had refused to relocate some of the lions to Kuno in Madhya Pradesh on the ground that they were pride of Gujarat.
The proposal to relocate had the ministry's backing as it was felt that having lions only at one wildlife area could lead to deteriorating of their breed and extinction in a longer run. There are over 300 lions in Gir wildlife area.

To overcome such fears, the Gujarat government had proposed setting up wildlife genomics and DNA banking facility for lions from different lineage, different areas and different generation. This will help in having a data bank of different types of lions in Gir and neighbouring areas.

Having a lineage data will help the wildlife experts for evaluating the breeding stress and disease susceptibility, says a Gujarat government proposal. The DNA bank will also have an embryo transfer technology to supplement highly endangered species.

In the later stage, the Gujarat government has planned to install cloning technology that can be used for supplementing highly endangered population. Animal cloning in India has been restricted to poultry animals.

Gujarat's gene bank will be unique in India, which has world's largest gene bank for seeds. Around the world there are a few gene banks for the wildlife. They include Ambrose Monell Cyro Collection, New York, the Animal Gene Storage Resource Centre of Australia, Conservation Genome Resource Bank for Korean Wildlife, National Plant, Fungi, Animal DNA Bank, Poland and Wildlife Genetic Resources Bank, Malaysia.

The Gujarat government has sought funds from the Central government for setting up the facility. "We have agreed to the gene bank and has asked Planning Commission to provide requisite funds," environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 67 crore and the state government is exploring possibility of finding a private partner to partially fund the project, ministry officials said.

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