Scientists May Pull Back The Northern White Rhino From Extinction After Successfully Creating 2 Embryos
There are just two northern white rhinoceros on the planet, Najin, and Fatu living in Kenya under 24-hour armed guard. However, an international consortium of scientists has found a way to try and prevent the permanent extinction of the species forever. Both of the remaining rhinos are female, but now there are two embryos created by scientists who used sperm from the last remaining males that died.
Just a short time ago, this outcome seemed impossible, but now it could lead the way for other endangered species faced with extinction.
“Five years ago it seemed like the production of a northern white rhino embryo was an almost unachievable goal — and today we have them,” said Jan Stejskal, director of communication at the Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Najin and Fatu were born. “This fantastic achievement of the whole team allows us to be optimistic over our next steps.”
Right now, all hopes lay with the embryos frozen in liquid nitrogen at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy. The females are unable to carry the embryos themselves, but a very similar species, the southern white rhino, will act as surrogate mothers.
Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany said it’s a step toward rescue for the northern white rhino.
“Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino,” said Hildebrandt.
The scientist project they will be able to create a herd of five animals and return them to Africa, but the project will take decades.
In the meantime, all rhinos are under threat from poaching thanks to the ridiculous notion that their horns have some medicinal value for traditional Chines medicine sold in illegal markets.
The horns are made of keratin like that in your fingernails and thus have no real medicinal value. Other than that, the horns are carved into useless trinkets sold on the black market. It’s obscene that some human beings can’t see the value of irreplaceable live animals rather than dead useless objects.
Last northern male rhino, Sudan, died in March 2018 at age 45. You may remember him advertised as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World; on the Tinder dating app in 2017. Sadly, just a year later, he was euthanized due to illness related to old age.
You can see Sudan in the video from CBS Sunday Morning:
Another male named Suni died in 2014 at a zoo in the Czech Republic. Suni was the half-sibling of Najin. Sperm from the rhinos was cryogenically frozen, then the eggs were airlifted from Kenya to Avantea laboratory in Italy.
In July, a southern white rhino gave birth to a baby boy at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It was another first: the first artificial insemination birth of these rhinos in North America.
According to conservationists, animals like the rhinoceros and elephants are vital because they maintain strong healthy forests and ecosystems as they go about their daily foraging.
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube