Tigers are among the most beautiful animals and perhaps this has led to them being hunted by poachers for their skin and other body parts. The hunting has taken such humongous proportions that their numbers are now dwindling and efforts are being made by several tiger conservation organizations that are using celebs such as MS Dhoni, Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar and many others to raise awareness on the issue with television advertisements and similar campaigns in other media. However, recently some important steps have been taken by the global scientific community that could ensure that more tigers are kept safe. The process known as whole genome sequencing of a tiger has been completed by scientists from 5 countries in the world.
In scientific parlance this indicates arranging every gene on one set of chromosomes of the concerned organism. This is the only reason that this arrangement is regarded as a total blueprint of any genetic composition and provides priceless information as to how a species interacts with its environment, how it acclimatizes and evolves and also how diverse it is from a genetic point of view. The research was led by 15 scientists whose head was Dr. Jong Bhak from South Korea’s Genome Research Foundation.
Through its research the team was able to decipher 3 billion nucleotides, which basically are organic molecules that create the primary building blocks with regards to nucleic acids. One example of such a nucleotide is the DNA. In fact the scientists have determined 20,000 genes that are connected to the different functions that a tiger performs. Priyavrat Gadhvi who is an Ahmedabad based biotechnologist was the only Indian who participated in the project. He feels that this is a landmark development in this domain. He has stated that till date the focus of genetic studies related to tigers was on genetic characteristics or unitary functions of the Big Cat.
The project was initiated in 2010 at a Tiger Conservation Colloquium that was staged by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. It happened at St. Petersburg and its main aim was to increase the amount of tigers across the world by 2022. Through the entire procedure the high sense of smell, their capability to digest a lot of meat and the immense strength they have in their muscles were detected. I am not a scientific expert and I do not know to the extent that this program shall be helpful but as a wildlife and animal lover in general I want the wonderful tigers of India and elsewhere in the world to be protected or else one day what Sachin Tendulkar thinks might come true – we might only be able to see a tiger in pictures and photos and that would be a shame indeed.