Maharashtra Forest Department Becomes First in the Country to Set up DNA Laboratory

Mumbai, December 10, 2019: Maharashtra’s Forest Department has decided to set up its own laboratory for DNA testing of wild animals. The Forest Department of Maharashtra has become the first department in the country to set up such a laboratory. The Chief Forest Conservator of the park, Anwar Ahmed said that an amount of Rs. 3 crore 96 lakh has been made available to the park administration for this work and the process of setting up a laboratory has been started.

In human-wildlife conflicts, especially when a human dies, it becomes very important to identify and capture that particular animal. Until now, footprints or markings or strips were used to identify such wild animal. Now, in order to accurately identify such wild animal it is necessary to conduct DNA testing of wild animal. Keeping this in mind the Forest Department will set up its own laboratory.

Presently, samples are sent for DNA testing at Hyderabad and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. One has to wait several months to get the results of this test. In the meantime, due to inability to identify the wild animal involved in human-wildlife conflict, there is a hindrance in issuing an order to capture that particular wild animal as per Section 11 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. It was necessary to establish an independent DNA testing laboratory in the Forest Department so that DNA test results could be available quickly.

The building is available for setting up a laboratory in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali. Keeping in mind the availability of specialist manpower and convenient transportation in Mumbai, this laboratory is being established in Sanjay Gandhi National Park itself. Mr. Ahmed said that it would be possible to identify the exact wild animal that was involved in the act in the event of human-wildlife conflict .