It’s only a leopard: lab finding

The Hindu - Sunil Kumar Verma

By T. Lalith Singh

HYDERABAD, FEB. 9. A team of scientists from the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has developed a unique procedure to conclude that the carnivore which has been creating a scare at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai is a leopard (Panthera pardus).

The stray animal has been giving anxious moments for the last few days forcing authorities to close down the zoo in Vandalur. In the absence of any proper sighting, there was confusion whether it was a lioness or a panther which prompted the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to seek the help of CCMB to establish its identity.

Two scat (faecal) samples of the wild cat were collected from the zoo campus and sent to the CCMB here on Wednesday. The CZA had also sent two known samples of leopard scat for comparison.

The CCMB Director, Lalji Singh, said a “simple and novel method” developed by his scientists was applied to generate molecular signature from the scat samples which was comparable to that of a known leopard.

“All we need is a strand of hair, scat or drop of blood to establish the identity of species and sub-species. The molecular signature we generate will tell the whole history,” said Sunil Kumar Verma, CCMB scientist, who has developed the procedure.

Courtesy: The Hindu

February 10, 2002