Hours after announcing the birth of the world’s first cloned buffalo calf on Thursday, scientists said the five-day-old animal had died in Karnal, Haryana, the previous day.
The birth was heralded as a scientific breakthrough because the cloning process was an “improvement” over the one used for the sheep Dolly, the world’s first cloned mammal.
The calf’s birth was met with elation by scientists, who saw it as a potential solution to the shortage of high-yielding
variety of “outstanding bulls” in the country.
“Our team of scientists has opened futuristic doors in the world of cloning as the technique used is an advanced modification of the conventional technique used in cloning Dolly,” said Dr A.K. Srivastava, director, National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI).
The new technique is less demanding in terms of equipment, time and skill, he said. There’s another first: with the development of this cloning technique, it will be possible to “have” an animal of the desired sex.
The technique was developed over four years by NDRI scientists S. K. Singla, R.S. Manik, M.S. Chauhan, P. Palta, R.A. Shah and A. George.
Their elation was, however, dampened by the calf’s death.
The female calf died of a lung infection at the Karnal-based NDRI, said Dr K. M. Bujarbarura, deputy director general (animal science) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences on Thursday.
Another buffalo calf is expected to be delivered by May by the team of animal scientists using their new ‘hand-guided’ technique rather than the conventional one relying largely on automation.
Although scientists across the world have cloned 10 other mammals -- cows, goats, pigs, rats, mice, rabbits, cats, dogs, horses and mules -- this is the first time a buffalo was cloned, catapulting India to the forefront of cloning technologies.
Dolly was “created” at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland in July 1996. The cloning had raised ethical questions amid fears that the technique could be used to clone humans.