Geneticists Banking DNA to Ensure Future of African Animals

African Lion
Dallas Safari Club continues its support in an effort to build a DNA repository of African game species.
Dallas Safari Club
Dallas Safari Club

Dallas, TX -(Ammoland.com)- Dallas Safari Club (DSC) is continuing its financial support of a Texas A&M University effort to build a DNA repository of African game species. The growing bank of DNA samples can be used to track the genetic heritage and health of wildlife.

DSC has awarded grants for this effort since 2011.

“Biologists say this program is an insurance policy for the future of wildlife,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive director. “And it’s passionate, generous hunters, mainly from the U.S., who are making it go.”

“Outdoor Life” magazine featured the program in its March 2014 edition.

In the article, Dr. James Derr of Texas A&M related the importance of genetic diversity in the restoration of American bison. Once estimated at 30 million, only a few hundred remained by the late 1800s. Inbreeding among survivors should have led to extinction. But ranchers had saved a few bison from different regions and different genetic stocks. That diversity, researchers would later discover, is what saved the species.

That’s the lesson that inspired Derr to develop the DNA repository effort for Africa, where today the fate of many species is clouded by habitat loss and poaching.

Grants from DSC and other donors allowed Derr to develop more than 250 DNA-collection field kits. Professional hunters and their clients in 11 African countries now use the kits to collect hair and blood samples from game species ranging from rhinos and lions to duikers and kudus. Back at the university, samples are analyzed, the DNA extracted, and genetic information mapped and loaded onto a database available to researchers worldwide.

Carter said, “DSC is proud to be part of this effort. It’s another important way that hunters are contributing to conservation for the future.”

About Dallas Safari Club

Desert bighorns on an unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An independent nonprofit organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide.

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