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).

 fake tiger skin Rhino horn Mongoose hairbrush
Suspected wildlife products left to right:
 

Besides these, the WFCG Cell plays a key role in sensitizing enforcement agencies in crime scene investigation 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), Custom Inspectors and Superintendents, and Range Forest Officers. It also conducts training and mock-drill exercise on "Crime scene management and evidence collection for various enforcement agencies.

 
Training of Foreign Participants at
INTERPOL Headquarter, Lyon, France
Mock-drill exercise on the collection of evidence
from an artificial crime scene
 

'WFCG Cell is conducting research in the field of conservation and evolutionary genetics. Research projects of the Cell are focused on assessment of diversity and evolution of Himalayan songbirds and red jungle fowl; evolution of cervides and canids; phylogeopgaphy hog deer; 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 the identification of the site of poaching; and conservation of the aquatic animals including dugong, Gangetic dolphin, fish and turtles through CAPMA species recovery program and NMCG-Genetics component'.

 
 

Personnel:

  • Dr. S. K. Gupta, Scientist- E, Nodal Officer (E-mail: skg [at] wii [dot] gov [dot] in)
  • Dr. S. Mondol, Scientist-E
  • Sh. C. P. Sharma, Sr. Technical Officer (3)
  • Sh. A. Madhanraj, Technical Officer
  • Sh. G. Thapa, Office Assistant
 

Ph.D. Study from WFCG Cell:

a.      Completed:  20
b.
     
Ongoing:  >20

 
Select Publications of the WFCG Cell

1.   Yadav P, Kumar A, Hussain SA, Gupta SK (2020) Evaluation of the effect of longitudinal connectivity in population genetic structure of endangered golden mahseer, Tor putitora (Cyprinidae), in Himalayan rivers: Implications for its conservation. PLOS One (In press)

2.   Singh G, Srinivas Y, Kumar GC, Singh A, Sharma CP, Gupta SK (2020) Identification of selected small cats using hair morphology and forensically informative nucleotide sequencing (FINS): wildlife forensics prospective. Legal Medicine (In press).

3.   Sharma SP, Katdare S, Zaidi Z, Ghazi MGU, Gupta SK, Hussain SA (2020) Mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals extremely low genetic diversity in a managed population of the Critically Endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus, Gmelin 1789). The Herpetological Journal (In press).

4.   Singh A, Gupta SK, Alström P, Mohan D, Hooper DM, Kumar RS, Bhatt D, Singh P, Price TD (2019) Taxonomy of cryptic species in the Cyornis rubeculoides complex in the Indian subcontinent. In press IBIS

5.   Singh B, Kumar A, Uniyal VP, Gupta SK (2019) Complete mitochondrial genome of northern Indian red muntjac (Muntiacus vaginalis) and its phylogenetic analysis. Molecular Biology Reports, 46:1327–1333.

6.   Kumar A, Gautam KB, Singh B, Yadav P, Gopi GV and Gupta SK (2019) Sequencing and characterization of the complete mitochondrial genome of Mishmi takin (Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor) and comparison with the other Caprinae species. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 137: 87-94.

7.   SharmaCP, KumarA, Vipin, Sharma V, Singh B, Kumar GC, Gupta SK (2019) Online selling of wildlife part with spurious name: a serious challenge for wildlife crime enforcement. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 133: 65–69.

8.  Gupta SK, Kumar A, Angom S, Singh B, Ghazi MGU, Tuboi C, Hussain SA (2018) Genetic analysis of endangered hog deer (Axis porcinus) reveals two distinct lineages from the Indian subcontinent. Scientific Reports, 8:16308 1.      Vipin, Sharma V, Gupta 9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Vipin, Sharma V, Gupta SK, Sharma CP, Sankar K, Goyal SP (2018) Development of a fast and low-cost age determination method in spotted deer, Axis axis. Folia Zool – 67: 3–4

12.  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.

13.  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.

14.  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.

15.  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.

16.  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.

17.  Maroju PA, Yadav S, Kolipakam V, Singh S, Qureshi Q, Jhala Y (2016) Schrodinger’s 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.

18.  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.

19.  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.

20.  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.

21.  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.

22.  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.

23.  PriceTD, 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. Gupta SK and Kumar A (2014) Molecular identification of man-eating carnivores from scat samples. Conservation Genetics Resources 6:271–274.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29.  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.

30.  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.

31. 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