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Revisiting genetic structure of Wild Buffaloes Bubalus arnee Kerr, 1792 (Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Bovidae) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: An assessment for translocation programs


Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR) has the last remaining Nepalese population of the Endangered Asiatic Wild Buffalo (Bubalus arnee Kerr, 1792).  Individual animals protected inside KTWR may be of purely wild, domestic or hybrid origin, and the wild population is under potential threat due to habitat loss and genetic introgression from feral backcrosses.  Identification of genetically pure wild individuals is important for identifying animals for translocation to other areas within their former range.  In this study we have sequenced a highly variable 422bp region of the Cytochrome b gene of 36 animals, and added 61 published sequences of both River and Swamp Buffalo from Italy and some southern Asian countries including India.  The haplotype diversities ranged from 0.286-0.589 with slightly higher diversities in domesticated individuals.  The AMOVA analysis revealed that 97.217% of the genetic variation was contained within groups and 2.782% occurred among groups.  An overall fixation index (FST) was found to be 0.02782 (p>0.05).  Phylogenetic relationships derived through a reduced median network and maximum parsimony analyses reconfirmed the ancestral nature of the Wild Water Buffalo.  Moreover, this study has reviewed recent achievements of molecular research in wild buffalo, assessed the technical capacities of research institutes in Nepal to conduct molecular research required for identifying pure wild individual in KTWR and more importantly initiated DNA bank and DNA sequence library of buffalos, which will enable an international collaboration for advanced molecular research in the future.