DNA DATABASE COMING UP FOR INDIAN RHINO
14, May 2019
Prelims level : Environment Mains level : Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
Why in News:
- The Union Environment Ministry has embarked on a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.
- The Indian rhino could be the first wild animal species in India to have all its members DNA-sequenced
- The project’s proponents, including the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) and the Centre-funded Wildlife Institute of India (WII), said the exercise would be useful in curbing poaching and gathering evidence in wildlife crimes involving rhinos.
- There are about 2,600 rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated
in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
- Around 60 samples of tissue have been collected so far from some rhinos living outside Kaziranga.
- DNA samples from dung are also extracted.
- Once the entire project is completed database will be hosted in the WII headquarters in Dehradun.” Once the database is complete, identifying rhinos that were killed or poached would be easier. The project is a subset of the Centre’s larger, ongoing rhino conservation programme. The government has been trying to move a significant number of rhinos out of Kaziranga in the interest of the species’ conservation, threats from poaching and challenges to their habitat.
- Outside Kaziranga, there are about 200 rhinos in West Bengal, 40 in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Bihar. There are three species of rhinos, of which only one — the Indian rhino — is found in the country. The rhinos were once abundant and well-distributed in the country. However poaching reduced its numbers to about “200 wild animals by the end of the 20th century.
- Two species of rhino in Asia—Javan and Sumatran—are critically endangered.
- The greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Rhinoceros unicornis has been listed in CITES Appendix I since 1975
- Close to 85% of the total population occurs in India, with about 75% in the state of Assam Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 is a partnership between:
- the Assam Forest Department,
- the Bodoland Territorial Council,
- the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),
- the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), and
- the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
- The goal is to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.