Kerala's captive elephants get genetic IDs to curb illegal trade and settle disputes over ownership of pachyderms

Thiruvananthapuram: For the first time in the country, captive jumbos in Kerala have now got their own genetic IDs, thanks to an unique DNA database initiative of the state government. The forest department, with the technical support of the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology (RGCB), has prepared the DNA database of all the registered captive jumbos across the state.

The database would act as an authentic record and data to settle any kind of dispute regarding the peculiarities and ownership of jumbos, the department officials said.

 Keralas captive elephants get genetic IDs to curb illegal trade and settle disputes over ownership of pachyderms

Representational Image. AFP

It is also expected to address the illegal trade, forgery of ownership certificates and other malpractices related to captive jumbos, an official statement said here.

The DNA profiling of as many as 519 elephants, registered with the department, has been completed. With this, Kerala has become the first in the country to have prepared the DNA-based genetic ID of its entire captive jumbo population, it said.

As part of the initiative, the forest department collected blood samples of tuskers based on which the RGCB experts had prepared the DNA fingerprint of each elephant using Micro-Satellite Marker technique.

"The department is now planning to develop a mobile app to make use of the information available in the database," the release said.

From now on, the forest department would provide identity cards, with QR codes having DNA details, to the owners of the captive elephants along with its ownership certificate, it said.

Director of RGCB, M Radhakrishna Pillai, handed over the project report and the details of the DNA finger prints to P C Kesavan, Chief Wildlife Warden, at a function in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

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Updated Date: Dec 19, 2018 15:54:58 IST