Wednesday, 1 February, 2023

Bihar to start DNA profiling of captive elephants

Bihar to start DNA profiling of captive elephants

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PATNA: The Bihar government will soon start DNA profiling of all the 54 captive elephants in the state to curb illegal trade of the pachyderm, reports PTI.

If all goes well, the DNA profiling project, supported by the Union environment ministry, will be undertaken by the state government from mid-December, PK Gupta, state’s chief wildlife warden, told PTI.

“The project aims to create a comprehensive database of all ‘domesticated’ elephants in the state. The database is likely to include a photograph of each ‘domesticated’ elephant as well as its genetic data.  

This initiative will go a long way in curbing the illegal trade of wild elephants.”

“The state forest department is providing a tamper-proof sampling kit and a special mobile application (application) developed by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to collect DNA samples,” Gupta said.

Qualified veterinarians would collect blood and faecal samples of the elephants for DNA profiling under the strict supervision of state forest department officials, he said.

Gupta said, “Adequate care of the animals will be ensured at all stages. It will be ensured that minimum inconvenience is caused to the elephants during the entire process. The record of each elephant and its owner will help in ascertaining whether any elephant has been traded illegally.”

The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, as amended in 2002, bans the sale of ‘pet’ elephants that are not registered with the state forest department.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act mandates suitable measures of care and maintenance for issue of ownership certificate. A large number of ‘domestic’ elephants are privately owned in the states and most of them are used for commercial or ceremonial purposes and rituals.

There are 11 ‘pet’ elephants in Bihar’s Saran district, eight in Gopalganj, six each in Patna, East Champaran and Vaishali districts, while Siwan and Bhojpur have five each. Samastipur, Gaya, Kaimur, Rohtas, Bhagalpur, Begusarai and Lakhisarai have one ‘pet’ elephant each.