March 16, 2012
Scientists Clone Kashmir Goat
Scientists and researchers at Sker-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) have successfully cloned a rare Pashmina goat.
They named the goat Noori, which means “Light” in Arabic. The animal was born on March 9 and remains in good health and is growing.
Dr. Riyaz Ahmad Shah of SKUAST´s Department of Animal Biotechnology told the Indian Express, “This is a great scientific achievement in the field of veterinary sciences. This is the first cloned Pashmina goat in the world.”
Dr. Shah hopes this technology will spark interest in breeding the goats across the region, creating mass production of their high-priced Cashmere wool. The wool generates around $80 million a year for the Indian-controlled portion of the mountain state.
The goats, which are raised in small herds across the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, must live in harsh conditions to create the soft wool. In recent years the wool has been imported into Kashmir from China in order to keep up with demand of the regions hand-woven shawls.
It took Shah and the six other researchers on his team two years to develop the innovative “handmade” cloning technique, essentially using a microscope and a steady hand. According to Shah, “This is the cheapest, easier and less time-consuming” method of cloning. Conventional methods use advanced machinery and chemicals.
The researchers plan to spread the technology throughout the region possibly even using it to increase population of threatened species such as the hangul, the only surviving species of Asian red deer.