The Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has, for the first time, successfully created a DNA database of almost 200 rhinos from Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.This is the first time that work is underway to create a database of the roughly 3,300 rhinos in the country. Samrat Mondal, who is heading the project, believes that the database will help prosecute wildlife offenders once confiscated rhino parts are matched and tested with the tissue of the poached animal. “It will help us produce scientific evidence before the law for prosecuting wildlife offenders,” says Mondal.The dedicated Wildlife Forensic and Conservation Genetics Cell of the institute now has DNA samples of around 100 rhinos from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, 40 from the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh, around 35-40 from Manas National Park and about 70-80 rhinos from Kaziranga National Park, both in Assam. “We started creating the database in January and have records of 150-200 rhinos so far. The database is continuously growing. Already, four crime cases have been analysed and solved after seized rhino parts were matched with the poached animal,” Mondal said.Besides the tissues being collected by the forest departments, WII and WWF-India are also collecting rhino dung and individual-level data is being generated to augment the tissue-based database.