It’s been 15 years since Dolly the sheep emerged as the first clone to graze the earth. Since then, we’ve seen Snuppy the dog in South Korea, CC the cat in Texas and Samrupa, the word’s first cloned buffalo in India. Now, the twinning trend has taken hold in the region of Kashmir as a way to bolster the Himalayan cashmere industry, the Associated Press reports.
Sales from luxurious, expensive shawls and scarves made from the pashmina’s soft wool bring in $80 million a year for the mountainous region, but slowly decreasing goat populations pose a problem for the area. Numbers have dropped off in recent years, and the remaining herds are too few to keep up with demand, forcing Kashmir to import cashmere from China.
Kashmir’s scientists took matters into their own hands, literally. Using a “handmade” cloning procedure, Dr Riaz Ahmad Shah, a veterinarian in the animal biotechnology center of the Sher-e-Kashmir University, and six other scientists brought the first pashmina goat clone, Noori, into the world on March 9.
Shah told the AP, “This is the cheapest, easier and less time-consuming” method of cloning, compared with the high-tech machinery that mainstream methods entail. Though Noori is the first pashmina goat to be cloned using the handmade technique, Shah has also cloned a buffalo in the past. It could be another six months before the region delivers another clone, but scientists are excited about the possibility of expanding the program across the Himalayas.
If it’s successful, why stop at goats? In the future, Shah says he hopes to focus on endangered animals such as the last remaining Asian red deer, the Kashmir stag. Like it or not, cloned animals may be even more mainstream in the next few years. According to the Huffington Post, word has it that zoos of the future could feature extinct species such as dodo birds or Tasmanian wolves. Didn’t Jurassic Park teach us anything?