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Thai scientists clone rare swamp buffalo

Few animals are as associated with Southeast Asia as the water buffalo. Last week researchers from Chulalongkorn University presented to the public the first ever swamp buffalo calf cloned from an ear skin cell, at Chitrlada Palace, demonstrating the rising skills of Thai genetic scientists. 
 
The scientists from Chulalongkorn’s Faculty of Veterinary Science's Research and Development Centre for Livestock Production Technology conducted ten years of research before they successfully cloned the calf.  They said the results could eventually ensure the survival of swamp buffaloes.
 
Although swamp buffalos are still easily found in Thailand, their numbers have been steadily falling.  Between 2004 and 2014, the population of swamp buffalos dropped 56.2 percent to 840,000, according to the Department of Livestock Development.  At that rate the animal could be extinct in five years, according to some scientists. Farmers have abandoned the breed, and many have been sold to smugglers abroad and killed.  The government recently allocated nearly US$160 million to protect and increase the number of swamp buffalos.
 
University Vice Rector Mongkol Techakumphu said the researchers used cells from the ear of an adult male swamp buffalo and ovaries from female buffalos in the cloning process.  A total of 39 early embryos and 19 balls of fertilized ovary cells were implanted into 12 buffaloes. Of those, only one pregnancy reached term, as miscarriages are common in cloning attempts.  But, on December 9, 2010, the 88-pound Clone Thong was born after 326 days of gestation.
 
Clone Thong, which translates as Clone Gold, is now three years old. A male, Mongkol said Clone Thong should be capable of breeding, just like any naturally born buffalo.  He could also be used for cloning other buffalos.
 
His introduction at Chitrlada Palace, home to constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was appropriate.  King Bhumibol has conducted agricultural research in the past, and Chitrlada has both laboratories and a demonstration farm. Cattle belonging to the demonstration farm can be seen from Sri Ayutthaya Road, which borders the palace.
 
Kriengsak Thasripu, head of the research team, said the cloned calf was the world's first swamp buffalo derived from an adult ear-skin cell and just the world's second cloned swamp buffalo. The first was cloned in India. 
 
Clone Thong is the first swamp buffalo but not the first calf to be cloned in Thailand, however.  Thai scientists have cloned dozens of breeding bulls and cows since 2003. In 2000, Rangsun Parnpai, head of a research team at Suranaree University of Technology, became the first scientist to successfully clone a cow in Southeast Asia.
 
See the original article at Thailand e-Focus

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