Chhattisgarh has approached the National Dairy Research Institute to clone its state animal ban bhainsa (wild buffalo) and throw the endangered species a lifeline.
Once found in abundance in central India, wild buffaloes, which bear a striking resemblance to bisons, are now restricted to a few places in forests of Chhattisgarh.
We are working on the basic modalities before kicking off the project," Dr SK Singla, principal scientist of the NDRI biotechnology department, said on Sunday.
A team of scientists from the Karnal-based NDRI, credited with developing indigenous cloning techniques, recently visited Udanti forests in Chhattisgarh for the project.
The feat of having already cloned the world's first domestic buffalo and pashmina goat will come in handy for experts at the central government's premier dairy research institute.
"The institute is yet to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chhattisgarh government to clone the wild buffaloes," Singla said.
An NDRI scientist who did not want to be named said, "If this initiative works out successfully, it will pave the path for conservation programmes for lions, tigers and other wildlife."
Wild buffaloes are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened species.
They are also a Schedule I animal under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and by rule provided absolute protection. Offences against Schedule I animals attract the highest penalties.