ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

Technology to study a dwindling species

By L.B.Senaratne

With the numbers of the wild buffalo and the domesticated Lankan buffalo dwindling, the dearth of statistics on them has hindered scientists from studying their lifestyle, but new technology has come to the rescue.

A project to study the wild buffalo had initially been launched by the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of the Peradeniya University and the Animal Embryo Biotechnolgy Laboratory, with funds from CARP.

The dart being inserted into the gun barrel

It had been found that it was not easy to approach the wild buffalo in its natural habitat to secure samples for DNA tests and for this purpose a unique gun had been purchased at a cost of Rs. 1.2 million. A dart from this gun could be fired from a range of 80 metres to hit the animal without tranquilizing the beast. On contact the dart breaks just enough flesh from the animal to be used for DNA tests.

According to the project head Dr.Basil Alexander the gun had been used to collected somatic samples on a variety of deer, which would be extinct soon.

Dr. Alexander said this gun which was unique in the sense it had a lazer ray for accurate shooting. It was also pressured so that around 40 shots could be fired with one capsule. He said that once the dart comes in contact with the animal, it takes a sample and drops off while the animal may run away.

He said this gun could be used on other animals such as elephants and other big animals as well. The gun has been manufactured in Denmark, while similar guns are of US origin.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.