Maharashtra to set up first DNA testing facility for animals

By: |
July 02, 2021 1:44 PM

Maharashtra state authorities are set to establish a DNA testing facility in the state for animals.

Inauguration of the centre in Nagpur was important as many cases of human-wildlife conflict were being reported. (Representational Image)

Maharashtra state authorities are set to establish a DNA testing facility in the state for animals. Till now, the state has been sending DNA samples of the animals who are hit during man-wildlife conflict or are a victim of poaching to forensic labs in other places. With the inauguration of Nagpur Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), DNA samples of the animals can be tested within the state. For now, samples were being sent to laboratories in Hyderabad or Dehradun for testing.

Every year, 500 to 600 samples are sent to these two centres. Citing an official, the report noted that inauguration of the centre in Nagpur was important as many cases of human-wildlife conflict were being reported. Also, the state witnessed the controversial case of tigress Avni (T-1) which was shot down in 2018.

Explaining the need for DNA testing on animals, the official said it helps in determining the species involved in case of a death of a person in likely man-animal conflict. To be sure, DNA tests are also required in generating proof against poachers who are involved in killing animals. “For example, a blood sample found on the clothes of a hunter could be tested to confirm it belonged to a tiger. This would work as clinching evidence against the accused in the court of law,” the report quoted the official as saying.

Apart from this, the DNA testing of endangered species like black panthers allow the authorities to have control samples. These are known samples that are compared with newer unknown DNA samples in cases when there is a fear of the species going extinct, the official noted. He added that the process for these requirements would take months as samples were sent to Hyderabad and Dehradun and then results used to take time, further hindering the process of capturing an animal following due procedure.

Sandeep Bishnoi, Director General (legal & technical), Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories, Maharashtra, also confirmed that the DNA testing facility for animals will soon be inaugurated at Nagpur.

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