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India clones second buffalo in three months

June 06, 2009 16:19 IST

Indian scientists on Saturday said they have cloned the world's second buffalo, just three months after the first one died of pneumonia, within a week of its birth. The buffalo calf, named Garima, was born at 11 am at the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, and weighs approximately 43 kg, the institute's Director A K Srivastava said.

"Garima is absolutely healthy and we are fully optimistic about her survival. A two-member veterinary doctors' team has arrived from the Haryana Agricultural University. Our own veterinary doctors, led by KPS Tomar, are also looking after her and we are taking all precautions to avoid any mishap," Srivastava said.

The scientists adopted a more advanced technique than that used in producing Dolly -- the sheep that became the first mammal to be cloned. The 'hand-guided cloning technique', perfected by the NDRI scientists, would allow production of calves of a desired sex.

However, scientists have used tissue from foetus to clone the calf this time, instead of taking the tissue from the ear of a female buffalo, as was the case last time. The first cloned buffalo was born on February 6, and survived only for a week.

India, according to Srivastava, has the largest population of buffaloes in the world. However, the percentage of elite animals is very low and there is a need to enhance the population of these buffaloes. The cloning technique is expected to address this gap.

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