Mumbai SGNP to Establish Wildlife Forensic Laboratory by March 2022 | Bombay News


A wildlife forensic laboratory project at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), which will be equipped to perform animal DNA analyzes, based on swab and fecal samples, is expected to become operational by March 2022 after a considerable delay, said Maharashtra’s chief wildlife custodian. said. The lab will be modeled after a similar facility set to be inaugurated in Nagpur this week on October 22 by the police department.

This development, which has now been incorporated into the Maharashtra State Wildlife Action Plan 2031 (sanctioned by the chief minister at a meeting of the State Wildlife Council last week), has been on hold since 2019, when the department State Forest Department offered for the first time a dedicated wildlife facility. forensic medicine in Bombay.

Sunil Limaye, Maharashtra’s chief wildlife custodian, said such forensic capacity has so far been lacking across the state, where wildlife crimes and conflict are all common. two streams.

“The Sanjay Gandhi National Park Forensic Wildlife Laboratory (SGNP), equipped to perform animal DNA analyzes, will be operational by March 2022. At the moment, whenever we need to perform a forensic analysis – legal swabs or excrement samples, we send to laboratories in Jabalpur or Hyderabad. The process can take months and is a major obstacle to resolving cases of wildlife crime and conflict. With our own facilities, we can create a database of vulnerable animals from excrement samples. This can be useful later. Suppose there is a poaching case where some animal parts have been recovered, or a tiger or a leopard has attacked a human, we can identify the animal concerned within a few days and react appropriately ”, Limaye said, stressing that such a facility would lead to faster conflict resolution and possibly faster sentencing for wildlife crimes.

SGNP officials have already identified a location in the premises of the park to set up the laboratory, which will be done with an approximate budget of ??3.5 crores. “We are in the process of acquiring the funds,” added Limaye.

Laboratory expenses should be covered by the park’s annual public ledger. The lab will be able to meet the needs of wildlife monitoring teams not only from Mumbai, but across western Maharashtra and also other neighboring states, such as Gujarat and Karnataka, which are home to vulnerable animals. such as Asian lions and black panthers. . In addition to the forensic laboratory, a second priority project for the Department of Wildlife under the Maharashtra State Wildlife Action Plan includes the creation of a comprehensive database of all crimes against wildlife in Mumbai (and other territorial forest areas of the state) over the past 10 years in December.

“We already started working on this last month. While poaching and killing of wildlife, especially land mammals like tigers, has proven to be the most predominant crime in eastern Maharashtra, Mumbai and the Konkan region, it is concerns the possession and trafficking of reptiles and protected birds, such as sand boas, monitor lizards and even marine animals such as turtles. We have enlisted the help of the Wildlife Trust of India and Kerala Forestry Department to create this database, as they have been working on a similar initiative in Kerala for the past five years, which will allow us to follow the progress of individual cases. of wild animals. criminality. At the moment, the data is scattered throughout the offices of the range and we do not have a centralized database. We have already set up dedicated wildlife crime units, one in Nagpur and one in Mumbai, for which this database will prove to be extremely useful, ”said Pandurang Pakhale, deputy forest conservator. , who is leading this exercise.

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