GUWAHATI, Aug 6 - Forest officials are developing a protocol and procuring kits for adopting RhODIS, a rhino DNA indexing system, which will help investigate and prosecute offenders in poaching cases.
RhODIS is a rhino DNA profiling and database system developed by Pretoria�s Veterinary Genetics Lab (VGL) in collaboration with partners. The system is being successfully used in African nations to investigate and prosecute offenders in rhino poaching cases.
The RhODIS tool compiles each individual rhino�s unique DNA profile in a ready-to-reference database that can be presented in a court of law, thereby proving that a seized horn was from a particular poached rhino.
A senior State forest official told The Assam Tribune that each rhino bearing area � Kaziranga, Manas, Pobitora and Orang � will have an investigation team comprising four members.
�We are in the process of forming the teams. The team members will be trained how to collect the samples and preserve them before being sent to the labs,� the official said. Sample collection kits are also being created.
The samples are likely to be sent to the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) which will keep the database. Blood, hair and ear tissues, etc., from each dead rhino � whether it died of natural causes or unnatural � will be collected and sent to WII for preservation and profiling. In fact, a few samples have been already sent to the WII, sources said.
�Today if you catch a poacher with a horn, it is not easy to link it with a rhino which died months or years back. If we have the indexing, we can match the horn. The database enables investigators to link poachers to crime scenes, a rhino that has been harmed or confiscated horn, along with other evidence,� the official said.