The northern white rhino is nearly extinct. But there is still hope: German researchers can use a complex procedure to help save the subspecies. But the road is long.
Nairobi (dpa) – With careful action, German scientists want to save the rare northern white rhino from extinction in an international consortium.
Under the supervision of Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Animal and Wildlife Research, veterinarians removed egg cells from one of the last remaining animals at the Kenya Wildlife Park, which were then fertilized in a laboratory in Italy with sperm from deceased males. So far, twelve embryos of the rhinoceros strains have been formed, the BioRescue Consortium announced.
Sperm from an animal that died at a safari park in San Diego in 2014 was used for fertilization. Hildebrandt and his team obtained it in 2001 and 2005. In a three- to four-month cycle, they want to produce more embryos from egg cells taken from a still-living female northern white rhino.
“After the resettlement of surrogate mothers is completed, successful embryo transfer is the next important step that the BioRescue team is striving for,” the statement said. Females of the southern white rhino are said to bear fetuses. The work is unique in the world. The northern white rhino is believed to be extinct, with the exception of females in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Reserve.
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