There is still hope for the Northern White Rhino after scientists in Italy managed to develop into viable embryos eggs collected from the two remaining females and frozen sperm from deceased males.
The embryos will now be stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother.
An international consortium of scientists and conservationists from #Kenya, #Italy, #Germany, #CzechRepublic has achieved a milestone in assisted reproduction that may be a pivotal turning point in the fate of northern white rhinos. #NorthernWhiteRhinos pic.twitter.com/u8f5GPqY1w
— KWS (@kwskenya) September 11, 2019
“After 10 days of incubation, two of Fatu’s eggs have developed into viable embryos that have been cryopreserved for future transfer. Najin’s eggs did not make it to a viable embryo despite the fact that one egg initiated segmentation. Thanks to Avantea Laboratories in Cremona,” Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.
An international group of scientists is hoping to bring the northern white rhino back from the brink of extinction. With only two females left in the world, they are turning to a sub-species for help.
Researchers from Kenya, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Germany are still monitoring closely the implantation procedure before the embryos are transferred into a surrogate mother.
The team is hopeful a northern white rhino calf can be born via surrogacy within the next three years.
Ten eggs were successfully harvested from the two remaining white rhino (Najin and and her daughter Fatu) on August 22, 2019.
Seven out of the 10 eggs (4 from Fatu and 3 from Najin) were successfully matured and artificially inseminated by the international consortium of scientist.
This was achieved through Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection (ICSI) with frozen sperm from two different northern white rhino bulls, Suni and Saut, on Sunday, August 25th.
The near-extinction of the Northern White Rhino is blamed on the menace of poaching, which was more rampant in 1970s and 1980s.