The only female wild buffalo kept in semi-captivity in Chhattisgarh’s Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary has been cloned through ‘Hand-guided Cloning Technique’ at ICAR- National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal. The female calf, born on December, 12, 2014, has been named ‘Deepasha’. The calf, born by normal parturition, weighed 32 kg at the time of birth. According to NDRI officials, the calf is in good health.
Dr. S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), congratulated the team and said the achievement in cloning the endangered species has opened new windows for application of cloning technology.
The sanctuary was left with the lone female buffalo popularly called as ‘Asha’. The species, locally known as ‘ban bhainsa’, is similar to bison in appearance, but is a different species and it is considered the state’s pride animal. As the lone female had bred only males through several natural-mating, it was a cause of concern. People were beginning to worry that the endangered species would become extinct. This led Wildlife Trust of India to approach NDRI for assistance through their technical partners. The way was to initiate research in cloning of wild animals.
The team of the scientists involved in cloning was led by Dr. AK Srivastava, Director and Vice Chancellor, NDRI. Dr. SK Singla, Dr. MS Chauhan, Dr. RS Manik, Dr. P Palta, Dr. SS Lathwal, Anuj Raja and Amol Sahare of the very centre were also involved.
“Conservation of endangered species through cloning has great potential. As our domestic buffalo has evolved from wild-buffalo, we may need to extract few traits of biological as well as economic importance from these wild animals in the future,” said Dr. Srivastava.
An in-situ breeding programme to save wild buffaloes from becoming extinct has been going on for the past many years in Udanti. The species is in the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is also a Schedule-I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.