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Chulalongkorn university’s scientists have successfully cloned a ‘Phaya Kwai’ Thai swamp buffalo from an ear-skin cell for the first time in the world.
The success raises of bleeding this rare buffalo specie which is facing extinction.
“Clone Thong” is now at a stable in the Chitralada Palace.
It is now three years old and now weighs over 400 kilogrammes.
Clone Thong has all five unique characteristics of ‘Phaya Kwai’ Thai swamp buffalo. They are white heart-shape mark on its forehead, white tale, white-speckled ankles, white hoofs and white nose.
Phaya Kwai buffalo is a rare breed of Thai swamp buffalo and there are less than 100 in Thailand.
Ancient Thai people believe this specie of buffalo is sacred. It is a fortune animal and bring happiness to its owner and his family. Killing the animal, on the other hand, will bring bad fortune to the owner.
According to Chulalongkorn University’s research in team head Kriengsak Thasripu, the team obtained the ear-skin cell from Thai swamp buffalo in Phitsanulok province.
The cell was fussed with an egg cell of a female buffalo before the embryo was placed inside a female buffalo, which went through a normal pregnancy that took 326 days.
The researchers have begun collecting its semen and ear-skin cell for further re-cloning. They will also conduct similar cloning researches on other animals which face extinction including gaur.
He said researchers have already collected semen and ear-skin cell from Clone Thong and now will see how long it will survive and if the cloned buffalo will have the same life expectancy as Thai swamp buffalo.
According to the team, buffalo cloning is more difficult than other animal cloning due to many factors.
Buffaloes have irregular rut season while there are small number of female buffalos.
Besides, the laws also prohibit slaughter of female buffalos. For future cloning for the purpose of buffalo conservation, the researchers will, therefore, have to use semen from this cloned buffalo.
Now, the population of Thai swamp buffalo is at some 800,000 in 2015, down from one million four years ago.
Buffalo cloning success rate is one percent.
Clone Thong is the world’s second cloned buffalo.
The first cloned buffalo is in India but the calf was derived from a muscle cell.
The cloning success gives hopes to Thailand’s attempt to conserve its unique and rare buffalo species.