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Varsity lifeline for golden langurs

Guwahati, May 7: Bodoland University is working on test-tube production of the endangered golden langur to provide it a lifeline and save it from extinction.

Known for its majestic golden colour and a bushy tail, the golden langur, endemic to India and Bhutan, is limited to a small forest belt in western Assam and Bhutan between the river Manas in the east, river Sankosh in the west and the Brahmaputra in the south.

Vice-chancellor Mohan Lal Brahma told The Telegraph that the university would produce test-tube babies of the golden langur though embryo-transfer technology.

The technique develops embryos in a test-tube, which are then implanted in the females’ uterus.

“Embryo-transfer techniques have been applied to nearly every species of domestic animal and many species of wildlife and exotic animals. The population of the golden langur is fast declining because of various reasons and unless something is done immediately, this exotic animal will soon disappear from this earth. So it is our responsibility to increase the population of the species,” the vice-chancellor said.

He said the university would soon submit a project in this regard to the central government and state government for funds. If required, the bio-technology department or an independent department would be involved to execute the project.

Brahma said as his university is close to Manas National Park, where the golden langur is found, it would not be difficult to carry out the process of embryo transfer. The university has experts to conduct the process and the necessary infrastructure will be created at the institution for the same, he added.

Bodoland University was established through the Bodoland University Act, passed in the Assam Assembly in 2009.

In accordance with the act’s provisions, the Kokrajhar campus of Gauhati University was upgraded to a full-fledged state university.

The objective of the university is to cater to the educational needs of the people, not only of the Bodo belt, but also of adjoining states and nations like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

“A large number of tourists and wildlife lovers come to Manas National Park to see the golden langur. Hence, the future of Manas is also dependent on the survival of the golden langur to a large extent,” Brahma said.

The Assam-state-zoo-cum-botanical garden is planning to build a conservation-breeding centre for golden langurs on its premises.

There are some golden langurs in the zoo, but most of them are males and efforts are being made to get some female langurs from Umananda for breeding.

Wildlife biologist Firoz Ahmed said the university’s project is interesting and it would be the first initiative on test-tube production of the golden langur.

He, however, said there are other initiatives like preventing deforestation, which need to be taken, to save this endangered animal.

“But test-tube babies of the animal will create lot of curiosity,” Ahmed said.