M A I N   N E W S

After Noorie, next cloned Pashmina goat in 6 months
Ehsan Fazili/TNS

The woolly marvel

A sheep, Dolly, was the first to be cloned 15 years ago

Since then, Snappy (dog), CC (cat) and Garima and Samrupra (buffaloes) have been cloned in South Korea, US and India

Cloning technology now can pre-determine the gender

Handmade procedure followed in Kashmir said to be cheaper, simpler and less time-consuming

It took two years to clone Noorie, but the next cloned Pashmina goat will take birth just six months later

Srinagar, March 18
The buzz around Noorie has continued to grow since March 9 when scientists at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (SKUAST) announced the successful cloning of the world’s first Pashmina goat, a rare and dwindling breed found in the upper reaches of Ladakh and Tibet.

The ‘news’ made it to Time magazine and most of the prominent newspapers in the UK have taken note of the breakthrough. Dr Riaz Ahmed Shah, the veterinary scientist who led the team of researchers, was also involved in the cloning of the world’s first buffalo at Karnal (Haryana).

The soft undercoat of the Pashmina goats yields the highly prized wool known the world over by the brand name of ‘Cashmere’. But the declining goat population has forced traders and weavers in Kashmir to import Pashmina from China during the last few years.

Dr Shah and his team took two years to clone Noorie. But now that they have standardised the procedure, they hope the next goat would take only six months. They hope to popularise the technology so that herd owners could grow their own goats.They also hope that the technology will enable them to clone other endangered animals like the ‘Hangul’ or the Kashmir stag (Asian Red Deer).

“Our cloning strategy involved the fusion of somatic cell (taken from an ear) with an egg derived from the ovaries of slaughtered goats”, said Shah. He added that no male sperm was involved in the process.

“The resulting zygote was activated and cultured in vitro in a specialised culture medium in specific environmental conditions,” he added. This was incubated for over a week before being transferred into the uterus of an estrus synchronised recipient goat through laparoscopic technique, he explained.

There was a natural pregnancy period of five months that was regularly monitored ultrasonographically to assess the growth and survival of the foetus. “The cloned Pashmina kid delivered normally and weighed 1.3 kgs at birth,” he said. The research was undertaken at the laboratory of Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry of SKUAST at Shuhama where a herd of Pashmina goats is maintained for experiments.

The research program is funded by the World Bank under National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of ICAR. This project is being pursued jointly by NDRI, Karnal and SKUAST-K.

The main objectives of the project is to standardise the cloning technology for the multiplication of elite Pashmina male goats for breeding purposes. Cloning of Pashmina goat is expected to multiply the number of such goats that would be in turn useful for producing more Pashmina wool.





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