By N.B. Nair
Scientists at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) based in Karnal have successfully cloned a critically endangered wild buffalo found in Chhattisgarh.
Only one female Asiatic wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) survives in Chhattisgarh’s Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve and forest officials have confined it in semi-captivity.
NDRI scientists conducted a biopsy on its ear tissue and took it to a laboratory at Karnal for cell proliferation. The cells were used for the cloning process using an indigenously developed hand-guided technique.
“The calf, named Deepasha by the scientists, had a normal birth weight of 32 kilograms, is healthy and active,” NDRI Director A.K. Srivastava told the Indian Science Journal, adding: “We have the necessary expertise and infrastructure to multiply this endangered species.”
The Asiatic wild water buffalo is restricted to South and Southeast Asia. The species is critically endangered due to high anthropogenic pressure ranging from habitat deterioration to hybridization with domestic buffaloes.
The cloning was carried out at the request of the Chhattisgarh government.
Srivastava said the calf will be handed over to the Chhattisgarh wildlife authorities for releasing into wild after a particular age.
NDRI had recently cloned the famous high-yielding Murrah bull variety – the world’s first such.
Srivastava said that over the years, NDRI has developed reasonably good facilities in buffalo reproduction with a dedicated team of scientists who specialize in production of stem cells, in vitro embryo production and transgenesis.