Wildlife Forensic & Conservation Genetics Cell


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The Wildlife Forensic and Conservation Genetics (WFCG) Cell was formed by merging the Wildlife Forensic and Conservation Genetics Laboratories for strengthening the enforcement of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 of India. WFCG Cell has a dedicated team of expert ‘scientist and technologists’ and ‘state of the art’ facility with high-end equipment for undertaking research and analysis for producing the scientific analysis reports/protocols in the fields of forensics and conservation. The main functions of the Cell include undertaking research for the enhancement of the wildlife forensics protocols, identification of species from a variety of wildlife parts and products for the enforcement support, developing and maintaining a repository of wildlife reference samples. In July 2017, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India has issued a ‘Gazette Notification’ for the recognition of WFCG Cell experts as ‘Government Scientific Experts’ under sub-section (4) of section 293 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

 

Suspected wildlife products left to right: fake tiger skin, Rhino horn, Mongoose hair brush

 

Besides these, the WFCG Cell plays a role in sensitizing enforcement agencies in crime scene examination and proper collection of evidence through regular training and workshops. It also provides advanced training for wildlife crime analysis to the scientific organizations of the neighboring countries, e.g. Nepal and Bangladesh for their capacity building to combat wildlife crime. WFCG Cell conducts lectures on species identification followed by hands-on-training on the identification of various body parts and products encountered in illegal wildlife trade field exercises for the leading enforcement agencies, e.g. Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Custom Officers, Assistance Conservator of Forest (ACF) and Range Officers. It also conducts training and mock-drill exercise on "Crime scene management and evidence collection for the Forest Officers.

Training of Foreign Participants at INTERPOL Headquarter, Lyon, France Mock-drill exercise on the collection of evidence from an artificial crime scene
 
WFCG Cell also involved in conducting research in the field of wildlife conservation using genetic tools. Research projects of the cell are focused on diversity and evolution of Himalayan songbirds and Red Jungle Fowl; evolution of cervides and canids; population dynamics of tiger, wolves and sambar; conservation of Great Indian Bustard (GIB), Sangai deer, Gharial and Mugger; molecular tracking of Great one-horned Rhinoceros and tiger for detection of the area of poaching; and conservation of the aquatic animals including dugong, Gangetic dolphin, fish and turtles.
 
 

Personnel

  • Dr. Y. V. Jhala, Scientist- G, Nodal Officer (E-mail: jhalay [at] wii [dot] gov [dot] in) 
  • Dr. S. K. Gupta, Scientist- E, (E-mail: skg [at] wii [dot] gov [dot] in)
  • Dr. S. Mondal, Scientist-D
  • Sh. C. P. Sharma, Sr. Technical Officer (2)
  • Sh. A. Madhanraj, Techincal Assistant (1)
  • Sh. G. Thapa, Office Assistant
 
Select Publications of the WFCG Cell
  1. Sharma CP, Kumar A, Vipin, Sharma V, Singh B, Kumar GC, Gupta SK (2018) Online selling of wildlife part with spurious name: a serious challenge for wildlife crime enforcement. International Journal of Legal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s00414-018-1795-7
  2. Vipin, Sharma V, Gupta SK (2018) Molecular identification of victim species and its sex from the ash: a case of burning alive leopard (Panthera pardus). International Journal of Legal Medicine 132:  1075–1078.
  3. Paul S, Pandav B, Mohan D, Habib B, Nigam P, Mondol S (2018) Current distribution and status of swamp deer Rucervus duvaucelii duvaucelii in the upper Gangetic plains of north India. Oryx, doi:10.1017/S0030605318000078.
  4. Kumar A, Gazi MGU, Hussain SA, Bhatt D, Gupta SK (2017) Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA based genetic assessment indicated distinct variation and low genetic exchange among the three subspecies of swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelli). Evolutionary Biology 44: 31-42.
  5. Singh A, Kumar A, Kumar RS, Bhatt D, Gupta SK (2017) Amplification of mtDNA control region in opportunistically collected bird samples belonging to nine families of the order Passeriformes. Mitochondrial DNA Part B 2: 99-100.
  6. Kumar A, Hussain SA, Bhatt D, Gupta SK (2017) Conserve primers for sequencing complete ungulate mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene from problematic and decomposed biological samples. Mitochondrial DNA Part B: 2: 64-66.
  7. Angom S, Kumar A, Gupta SK and Hussain SA (2017) Analysis of mtDNA control region of an isolated population of Eld’s deer (Rucervus eldii) reveals its vulnerability to inbreeding. Mitochondrial DNA Part B. 2: 277-280.
  8. Singh SK, Aspi J, Kvist L, Sharma R, Pandey P, Mishra S, et al. (2017) Fine-scale population genetic structure of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in a human-dominated western Terai Arc Landscape, India. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174371.
  9. Maroju PA, Yadav S, Kolipakam V, Singh S, Qureshi Q, Jhala Y (2016) Schrodingers scat: a critical review of the currently available tiger (Panthera tigris) and leopard (Panthera pardus) specific primers in India, and a novel leopard specific primer. BMC Genetics (2016) 17:37.
  10. Gupta SK, Kumar A, Gaur A and Hussain SA (2015) Detection of 40 bp insertion-deletion (INDEL) in mitochondrial control region among sambar (Rusa unicolor) populations in India. BMC Research Notes 8: 581
  11. Angom S, Gupta SK, Kumar A and Hussain SA (2015) Identification of globally threatened cervids from problematic samples using cytochrome b and control region genes. Conservation Genetics Resources 7:647650.
  12. Mukesh, Sharma LK, Charoo SA, Sathyakumar S (2015) Conflict Bear Translocation: Investigating Population Genetics and Fate of Bear Translocation in Dachigam National Park, Jammu and Kashmir, India. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0132005.
  13. Mukesh, Kumar VP, Sharma LK, Shukla M, Sathyakumar S (2015) Pragmatic Perspective on Conservation Genetics and Demographic History of the Last Surviving Population of Kashmir Red Deer (Cervus elaphus hanglu) in India. PLoS ONE 10(2):e0117069.
  14. Singh SK, Mishra S, Aspi J, Kvist L, Nigam P, Pandey P, et al. (2015) Tigers of Sundarbans in India: Is the Population a Separate Conservation Unit?. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0118846.
  15. Price TD, Hooper DM, Buchanan CD, Johansson US, Tietze TD, Alström P, Olsson U, Ghosh-Harihar M, Ishtiaq F, Gupta SK, Martens JE, Harr B, Singh P and Mohan D (2014) Niche filling slows the diversification of Himalayan songbirds. Nature 509: 222–225.
  16. Gupta SK, Kumar A and Hussain SA (2014) Novel primers for sequencing of the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of ungulates using non-invasive and degraded biological samples. Conservation Genetics Resources 6: 499-501.
  17. Kannan K, Johnson JA, Kumar A, Gupta SK (2014) Mitochondrial DNA variation in the endangered fish Dawkinsia tambraparniei (Actinopterygil: Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) from southern Western Ghats, India. Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria 44(1): 3-8.
  18. Gupta SK and Kumar A (2014) Molecular identification of man-eating carnivores from scat samples. Conservation Genetics Resources 6:271–274.
  19. Gupta SK, Sharma CP, Singh L (2014) DNA typing established as an unambiguous tool for species identification in a dispute case. Forensic Science Journal 13: 9-14.
  20. Yumnam B, Jhala YV, Qureshi Q, Maldonado JE, Gopal R, et al. (2014) Prioritizing Tiger Conservation through Landscape Genetics and Habitat Linkages. PLoS ONE 9(11): e111207.
  21. Gupta SK, Kumar A, Hussain SA, Vipin and Singh L (2013) Cytochrome b based genetic differentiation of Indian wild pig (Sus scrofa cristatus) and domestic pig (Sus scrofa domestica) and its use in wildlife forensics. Science and Justice 53: 220-222.
  22. Gupta SK, Kumar A and Hussain SA (2013) Extraction of PCR-amplifiable DNA from a variety of biological samples with uniform success rate. Conservation Genetics Resources 5: 215-217.
  23. Sahajpal V, Goyal SP, Raza R (2008) Identification of mongoose (Genus: Herpestes) species from hair through band pattern studies using discriminate functional analysis (DFA) and microscopic examination, Science and Justice, doi:10.1016/j.scijus.2008.09.002