DNA profiling to check poaching

The forest cell of the Central Investigation Department (CID) has introduced the DNA profiling of pelts and ivory of animals to combat poaching.

The DNA profiling, the first time such a process is being employed in the country, will enable CID to check the large-scale organised poaching that is depleting wildlife in the State.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Hyderabad, the premier agency, has been traditionally entrusted with the task of DNA profiling, but now on, the Karnataka State DNA Centre (KSDC) will undertake the task on pelts and other animal parts seized from illegal traders in wild animals and their body parts.

The process has been initiated with the help of Uma Ramakrishnan, a senior scientist from NCBS. Samples from 50 leopard pelts, 44 Otter pelts and 25 tiger pelts have been derived and profiled.

“When we seize some trophies of wildlife, we collect DNA samples from skin, hair and tusk which will be profiled. Samples are also collected from the scene of the crime for analysis,” said K S N Chikkerur, Additional Director General, CID forest cell.

Details like the origin of the animal and the place where it was poached could be derived from the test.

“For instance, most of the leopard pelts seized by us have been traced to central India, especially Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This will further strengthen our argument regarding the well knit network of poachers and people indulging in wildlife trade,” Chikkerur said.

The scene of the crime will be inspected by experts from where samples can be drawn. Dr T R Kumari, head of the  KSDC unit, has said that DNA profiling can ensure 99.99 percent accuracy in establishing the facts of wildlife crime.

In order to improve monitoring, along with existing DNA testing kits, equipment would be imported from the USA.

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