Thursday, October 4, 2012

Now, a lab to study genetic mapping of lions.

Published: Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012, 17:01 IST
By Smitha R | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The state forest department along with the Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM) will soon be setting up a lab for genetic mapping of lions in state. The lab which was to earlier come up in Junagadh may now come up in Gandhinagar or even at GEER Foundation.
Interestingly, while genetic mapping of lions is on the priority list, the lab will eventually also look at the genetic mapping of other animals as well. It should be noted that genetic mapping of lions was part of a 2008 lion conservation programme, but has not taken off since then.
SK Nanda, former principal secretary, forest and environment said, “The lab is being set up to study the genetic pool diversity of lions and eventually may cover other animals as well. It will entail an initial investment of Rs5 crore to Rs6 crore.”
He said that once set up, the facility can also invite experts from outside if the need arises.
Another official of the forest department said that genetic mapping is part of the bio-diversity conservation and it happens at three levels. “It is necessary to study all the three levels – the eco-system, the species and the genetics levels,” said the official.
An official of GSBTM said that proposal to set up such a lab was first made by the mission which was later on accepted by the forest department. “Ensuring genetic diversity of a species is a must as it means the species will be able to survive in different environment. The project is likely to cost Rs22 crore spread over a period of five to six years,” said the official.
The official said that initially genetic mapping of lions and panthers will take place. “The forest department is expected to provide the facility while GSBTM will help in setting up of the lab and scientific work. It will be a dedicated institute that will use biotechnology for conservation of wildlife. Covering a few species alone will not serve the purpose,” said the official.

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