Hyderabad: City-based Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LACONES) of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) will soon launch a novel initiative aimed at collecting and storing vital genetic data of zoo animals for perpetuity in the country.
A network of big zoos in the country is being created so that they can participate in the gene banking initiative and senior researchers said LACONES was the ideal research facility in the country to collect and preserve genetic data of zoo animals.
The National Genetic Resource Bank, India’s first genetic resource bank that was inaugurated last year at CCMB-LACONES, will preserve genetic data of zoo animals.
“We are in the process of creating a network of big zoos in India to participate in the gene bank. Even death of zoo animals is important but their death should not go in vain. The genetic complement of the zoo animals will be preserved and they can be used in future,” said CCMB-LACONES, senior principal scientist, Dr. Karthikeyan Vasudevan.
Interacting with Telangana Today on the sidelines of a conference on wildlife conservation at CCMB, Dr Vasudevan said that there will be a separate zoo collection at the recently launched National Genetic Resource Bank.
“We will collect the oocytes, gonads and other genetic material from animals in big zoos in India and preserve them for perpetuity. We are working closely with Central Zoo Authority to identify four to five big zoos for the project,” he said.
The senior scientist said the researchers at LACONES were absolutely ready to take up cloning in the country. “We have to use cloning at the right time, right occasion and on the right species so that we can bring about considerable impact in conserving Indian animal species. We believe that cloning is a viable technology and in the last few years our researchers have been refining, practising and training people. We can’t do these experiments overnight and they are expensive. But, at present we have the ability and wherewithal for the mission,” Dr.Vasudevan said.
Wildlife veterinarians and zoo biologists in India are a group that address certain niche issues concerning both wildlife and captive animals. “This is a small group and their skill sets needs improvement. They must be exposed to new scientific advancements and how they can be brought within the ambit of their practice in India,” he said.