Published on February 23, 2020

AHMEDABAD: Wildlife crime investigators usually spend days to know if the seized animal products belong to specie protected under the Wildlife Act. A scientist at Gujarat Forensic Sciences University (GFSU) in Gandhinagar has devised a DNA barcode which can tell if the seized meat, nail, fur, horns etc belong to musk deer of Himalaya or a blackbuck from Gujarat.

In fact, the DNA barcode can identify all the seven species and over a dozen sub-species of the ungulate family.

A doctoral research by Malay Shukla has created a repository of DNA barcoding and Forensically Informative Nucleotide Sequencing (FINS) for ungulates. The study was carried out in collaboration with a team of researchers from Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Barcoding will help quicken identification

The study aimed to reduce the time taken in identification of the species, which would range from 15 days to over a month. Samples also ran the risk of deteriorating during transition from crime scene,” said Malay Shukla.

Barcoding can not only identify ungulate species but also reveal its natural habitat. “If a musk deer’s pod is seized, we can also tell from which region of the Himalayas it came,” said Shukla. Dr J M Vyas, director general of GFSU, said that wildlife forensics is new field and DNA is one of the most trusted methods for identification. “The will would be very useful in quicker identification of species in poaching cases,” Malay Shukla said.

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