Dr. Albert Chiang,Scientist-D
Wildlife conservation using biotechnological tools, with an initial focus on Manipur’s State Animal, Sangai (Recervus eldii eldii), one of the most endangered deer species in the world
The Sangai (Manipur’s Brow Antlered Deer) is considered as one of the most endangered species of deer in India. It is listed as ‘Endangered’ in IUCN Red List and Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. There are a little over 200 individuals in the wild, and more alarmingly this population is restricted to the floating expanse of the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur. Realizing the importance of Sangai in the socio-cultural life of the people of Manipur, the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, Manipur took the initiative to organize a National Workshop on the “Conservation and Sustainable Management of Sangai”, and this workshop held at IBSD on April 16-17, 2015, successfully brought together leading experts from different parts of India and local stakeholders.
In the deliberations during the National Workshop on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Sangai held at IBSD on April 16-17, 20151-3, it became evident that the only baseline data on the Sangai (unpublished) is from a project carried out by scientists from Wildlife Trust of India from 2005-2010, with support from the Forest Department, Manipur. While basic conservation genetics analysis have been conducted on both the wild and captive populations (Hussain et al, unpublished), they have been performed on small sample sizes which need to corroborated and extended to larger sample sizes for the study to be significant. Further, absolutely no studies have been done on the reproductive biology of the Sangai in both the wild and captive populations. I propose to fill up this research gap by conducting non-invasive monitoring of reproductive status (and stress physiology) by assaying for fecal steroid metabolites of the wild population at Keibul Lamjao National Park and the captive populations in Imphal, Guwahati, Delhi and Mysore Zoos.
In addition, the species of hog deer at Keibul Lamjao National Park will be studied similarly- as they presumably share the same habitat – and the hog deer will serve as an internal control to confirm if the effects of habitat loss and degradation has a similar effect on the reprouctive and stress indicators.
These studies which are being formulated as part of a National Coordinated Project will provide crucial baseline data for the park management to understand the genetic structure of the population and also the reproductive health and stress status of the Sangai in both the captive and wild populations. Such data is crucial for the park managers and captive breeders for better management and monitoring of the Sangai population.
1Cara Tejpal, Hope Floats, Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXV No. 6, June 2015 http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/conservation/field-reports/9972-hope-floats.html
2 Ananda Banerjee, Keibul Lamjao: The world’s only floating national park, Livemint, May 01 2015 http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/FvDmxWW6IamPeFQMw7TrVI/The-sangai-struggles-to-live.html
3 Anupam Chakravartty, Let the Sangai dance, Down to Earth, Jul 15, 2015 http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/let-sangai-dance
4 Brown et al, Endocrine Manual for Reproductive Assessment of Domestic and Non-Domestic Species, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park
Wildlife conservation using biotechnological tools, with an initial focus on Manipur’s State Animal, Sangai
Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance (January 2010- April 2014) (₹2 Crores)
Post Doctoral, 2010-2014 (University College London and National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru)
Ph.D, 2003-2009 (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru)
M.Sc Zoology 1997-1999 (North Eastern Hill University, Shillong)
2015 – Present: Scientist-D, IBSD
2010 – 2014: Honorary Research Associate (Universiy College London) and Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Early Career Fellow (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru)
2000 – 2003: Asst. Professor, Lady Keane College Shillong
Awards & Fellowships
2010-14: Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Early Career Fellowship (₹1.2 Crores)
2009: IBRO-SfN (IAC-USNC) International fellowship for attending the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience at Chicago, USA, 17-21 October, 2009 (US$ 1500), supplemented by the MBL-CSHL Alumni travel award from IBRO (US$ 2000)
2009: EMBL Award to meet tuition, lodging and travel costs to participate in the EMBL Practical Course on Current Methods in Cell Biology (€3500), supplemented by travel award from DST (India) (₹70000)
2009: National Institute of Health (NIH) travel grant (from the organizers) to attend the Keystone Symposia on ‘Chemical Senses’- March 15-19, 2009. (US$ 1000) supplemented by travel award from CSIR (India) (₹80000) and CCSTDS (India) (₹20000)
2007: IBRO Travel Grant for an oral presentation at the 2007 CSHL Synapses meeting, New York (US$ 2000) supplemented by a Travel Grant from the Company of Biologists (£500)
2007: IBRO-SfN (IAC-USNC) International fellowship for defraying tuition and travel costs for attending the ‘Neurobiology of Drosophila’ course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA (US$ 5500)
2006 Best poster award at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) Annual Research Talks
2003-09 Kanwal Rekhi Career Development Award
2003-09 TIFR Graduate Research Fellowship
1999 CSIR-UGC NET for Junior Research Fellowship and Lectureship (declined)
1999 Citation Award-Prof. M.K. Khare Award for securing the highest marks in M.Sc. Zoology, 1999, NEHU, Shillong
1999 Gold medalist (1st University Rank) in M.Sc. (Zoology), 1999, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong.
1997-99 NEHU Post-graduate Studies Scholarship
1997 5th University Rank in B.Sc. (Zoology), 1997, North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong.
Theory classes in ‘ An advanced course on Genetics and Genomics of Drosophila’ organized by Prof. (L) Obaid Siddiqi (Instructors- Profs. M. Ashburner, C.M. Bergman and Scott Hawley) National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore (2005)2 weeks
Neurobiology of Drosophila- Lecture and Laboratory course (Organizers- Scott Waddell, Greg Bashaw and Bing Zhang) Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), USA (2007) 3 weeks
EMBO Practical Course on Current methods in Cell Biology (Organizers- Lars Hufnagel and Marko Kaksonnen), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Germany (2009) 9 days
Publications: (year wise, recent first)
Abhijit Das†, Albert Chiang†, Sejal Davla, Rashi Priya, Heinrich Reichert, K VijayRaghavan and Veronica Rodrigues (2011) Identification and analysis of a glutamatergic local interneuron lineage in the adult Drosophila olfactory system, Neural Systems & Circuits 2011, 1:4 (†Equal contributors) Pubmed ID: 22330097
Albert Chiang, Rashi Priya, Mani Ramaswami, K. VijayRaghavan and Veronica Rodrigues (2009) Neuronal activity and Wnt signaling act through Gsk3-β to regulate axonal integrity in mature Drosophila olfactory sensory neurons, Development 136, 1273-1282 (2009)