Mumbai: Aarey Milk Colony locals learn forensics to help understand man-animal conflict

Nov 12, 2017, 08:40 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Volunteers taught to collect samples scientifically for leopard data bank; move for better know-how of man-animal conflict

To understand the problem of man-animal conflict at Aarey Milk Colony, Sanjay Gandhi National Park authorities along with a Bangalore-based research team are trying to create a data bank of leopards in the area using the DNA analysis method. On Thursday, a group of researchers visited the colony and conducted a training session with local volunteers on ways to collect forensic evidence. The forest department believes that this activity can act as a crucial source of information in cracking poaching incidents as well.

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Authorities train seven locals at Aarey
Authorities train seven locals at Aarey

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Himanshu Chhattani, research fellow with National Institute of Biological Science, gave a presentation on the subject to a group of seven local volunteers. The team was also shown the procedure and precautions to be followed while collecting forensic evidence from the spot. Volunteer, Prabhu Swami, who was part of the session, said, "We were taught how to collect samples from the scat using cotton buds, and the importance of gloves in collecting hair samples."

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While the forensic sample collection of leopards will begin soon, the success rate of the technique is suspect, feel a section of experts. A wildlife researcher, requesting anonymity, said, "Due to humidity, the chances of DNA degradation are higher if the collection process of the samples is not done at the earliest. Biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi and enzymes can increase the rate of DNA degradation. In such cases, the results aren’t reliable."

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