DNA fingerprinting for Kerala jumbos

Confronted with widespread manipulation of implanted micro-chips to keep track of the elephant population, the state government will soon roll out DNA fingerprinting for its captive elephant population at a cost of `40 lakhs.
DNA fingerprinting is considered the ultimate technique in identifying an individual.
Kerala, which has about 700 captive elephants, has banned their import from other states, yet smuggling elephants from other states has been detected and it was to check this and to identify the existing captive elephants that micro-chips were introduced.
Sources say that it has now come to the notice of the wildlife department that the micro-chips are being manipulated.
No one knows how but the implanted chips have gone missing from many elephants.
The proposal for DNA fingerprinting was mooted by forest minister B. Ganesh Kumar during a recent meeting with forest department officials, and has been approved, sources said.
Dr Arun Scaria, who heads the Wildlife Disease Research Laboratory, said that DNA fingerprinting will be easy as the DNA of elephants and humans is similar.
But it will take at least three years to complete the process.

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