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Tiger, tiger! What a plight

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 01:13 IST
Highlight Story

The big cat may  be extinct by 2025

TIME IS running out for the Indian tiger. None may be left in the wild 19 years from now if governments and experts don’t act soon.

In fact, an American research finding says the big cat will be virtually gone by 2025.

Quoting the research, noted DNA expert and Hyderabad’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) director Prof Lalji Singh on Thursday told Hindustan Times that the Indian tiger population would head for sterility due to its genetic homogeneity.

In 1900, India’s tiger population was 40,000 and in 2002, only 4,000 were left.
“As per estimates, we are losing one tiger every day.”

He said fragmentation of the natural habitat had led to inbreeding, which, in turn, caused genetic disorders.

Biotechnological intervention for long-term conservation was a sound and modern way of saving endangered species, he said.

The CCMB in Hyderabad is setting up a laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (La-CONES) for preservation of genetic diversity and conservation of wildlife.

The main mandate of this lab will be to monitor genetic variation in species with the help of modern techniques, such as DNA fingerprinting.

This will establish a degree of genetic variation in species and their family lineage. That, in turn,  will contribute to planned in-house breeding strategies.

Some of the other tasks of this laboratory will be: Establishment of cell banks of endangered species for further cloning, setting up of gene banks by Cryopreservation of semen, eggs and embryos of endangered species for use in future in the conditions of inbreeding, analysis of semen source to establish a database to identify fertile males and select the best for breeding.

It will develop assisted reproduction technologies such as intrauterine insemination, in-vitro-fertilisation, intra-cytoplasm sperm injection and embryo transfer technique to facilitate propagation of species under circumstances which do not support normal mating and conception.

DNA fingerprinting was also playing a big role in detecting crime related to wildlife such as ivory theft, tiger skin identification and and killing of wildlife, said Singh.   

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