DNA study on Koragas to find out cause of drop in population


The population of Koragas, a primitive tribal community of coastal Karnataka, stood at 11,656 in 1991 and dwindled to 4,858 as per the 2011 Census.

To study the reasons behind this alarming decline in numbers, the Directorate of Tribal Welfare has asked Karnatak University’s DNA Centre to do DNA analysis of the community. There have been increasing instances of heart aliments, tuberculosis and cancer in the community.

Two scientists of the centre will visit Koraga colonies in Dakshina Kannada and collect blood samples on Friday and Saturday. This pilot study will be the basis for the detailed study to be carried out by Mysuru-based Tribal Research Centre in collaboration with the DNA Centre, said T.T. Basavana Gowda, director of the Tribal Research Centre.

For over a decade, the Koraga community, who originally lived in the forests, have been demanding a study to learn why many members of the tribe are not living beyond 50 years. “Many of us toil as civic workers. We not only work under inhospitable conditions but also are ostracised from society,” said Sanjeev Moodbidri, secretary of the Koraga Samajagala Okkoota.

Sex ratio too declining

Contradicting this claim, Hemalatha B.S., Dakshina Kannada Integrated Tribal Development Project Officer, said there were enough members in the tribe who were aged above 50 as they found during a recent survey covering 85 families. However, she admitted that the population of Koragas had come down and the sex ratio too was on the decline. The male and female ratio was 1,000:986 in 2001, while it was 1,000: 973 in 2011, Ms. Hemalatha said.

A government doctor, who has worked closely with Koragas, said many in the tribe were anaemic, which was often a result of lack of access to nutritious food. This also makes them susceptible to tuberculosis and is the cause for high infant mortality. “Consumption of alcohol has also affected their health,” he said.

“Through the study we are about to start, we want to know whether there are any genetic disorders leading to health problems and decline in their population,” said Ms. Hemalatha.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:41:05 PM |

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