Scientists to 'poo-print' tigers

2011-10-21 22:15

kalahari.com

Kathmandu - Scientists in Nepal are to build up the world's first national DNA database of the endangered Bengal tiger by collecting and recording a unique genetic fingerprint from each adult's faeces.

Conservationists have relied in the past on the old-fashioned technique of photographing the big cat and recording footprints to study the population, said to number little over 100 adults in Nepal.

But the Centre for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) said a two-year Tiger Genome Project would gather a raft of vital behavioural and genetic information to help conservationists better understand the species.

"The whole idea is to scoop all the poop and get a genetic database of all the tigers in Nepal," said CMND researcher Diwesh Karmacharya.

Teams from the centre will fan out in four national parks in Nepal's Terai southern plains, the main habitat of the Royal Bengal tiger, armed with sample bags.

Poaching

The project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, is part of a Nepalese effort to double its population of Royal Bengal tigers.

The animals once roamed the country's southern plains in large numbers but have been depleted by poaching and the destruction of their habitat.

"In the past they used to use pugmarks - which are the footprints - and then they started using individual cameras," said Karmacharya. "There was a census done in 2009 and in 2010 and both used camera trapping.

"They both worked really well but the information you get is not too detailed. You won't be able to tell more than how many tigers you have in the area of the survey."

He said faeces would enable researchers to glean the sex of individuals as well as the areas they had come from and a whole host of behavioural information, such as breeding habits.

Karmacharya said that although other countries such as India had collected genetic information on Bengal tigers in the past, this would be the first systematic survey of a country's entire population.

"The idea is to figure out whether the current boundaries are effective in housing a healthy genetic population of tigers," he said.

Political instability

The information will also help assess the percentage of males and females and whether tigers found dead in the border areas were from Nepal or India.

The results will be shared with experts worldwide through scientific publications and presentations, USAID said.

A WWF survey carried out in 2008 found just 121 adult tigers of breeding age in the country.

Experts say poverty and political instability in Nepal have created ideal conditions for poachers who kill the animals for their skin, meat and bones, which are highly valued in Chinese traditional medicine.

Wildlife experts say a single tiger skin is traded for around $1 000 in Nepalese markets but at least $10 000 internationally.

The WWF says tigers worldwide are in serious danger of becoming extinct in the wild. During the last 100 years, their numbers have collapsed by 95%, from 100 000 in 1900 to around 3 200.
Read more on:    animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Your ideas may feel like a sea of thoughts swimming around every which way, and now you need to find something to contain them in...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.