Scientists Succeed in Creating Northern White Rhino Embryos

Scientists raise hope to save rare white rhinos

Scientists raise hope to save rare white rhinos

The scientists will in the next few months be transferring the embryo into a body of a surrogate mother where it is expected to mature.

Researcher Paola Turini works at the Avantea laboratory during the inseminating of eggs from the last two remaining females of northern white rhinos with frozen sperm from two rhino bulls of the same species, in Cremona, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019.

"Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue programme of the northern white rhino", said Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the BioRescue project at Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

"The pioneering in vitro embryos of the northern white rhino is a strong testament to what committed partnership can achieve in pushing the frontiers of science to save a creature from extinction", said John Waweru, director general of the Kenya Wildlife Service, in a tweeted statement.

Cesare Galli said his team collected five immature eggs from each female which were airlifted to the Italian laboratory. "After incubation, seven matured and were suitable for fertilization", Galli said.

"After ten days of incubation, two of Fatu's eggs developed into viable embryos that were cryopreserved for future transfer". In a press statement released from Italy, the researchers noted that the first ever in vitro embryos may mark the turn of the tide in the tale of almost extinct northern white rhino. Najin's eggs did not make it to a viable embryo despite the fact that one egg initiated segmentation.

Scientists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos. The northern white rhino is generally considered a subspecies of white rhino although some scientists believe it to be a sixth species.

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In August they underwent a highly risky procedure carried out by a team of global vets, which saw them anaesthetised for nearly two hours, and their eggs extracted using techniques that have taken years of research and development. Fatu's were injected with thawed out sperm taken from a dead male called Suni, while Najin's eggs were fertilised with poorer quality sperm collected from a male called Saut.

Historically, uncontrolled hunting in the colonial era caused the major decline of white rhinos.

"We have a very long way to go and we must remember that for most species facing extinction, the resources that are being dedicated to saving the northern whites simply don't exist". New ground "The Kenyan government is greatly encouraged by breaking of new ground in the assisted reproduction technique and remains committed to facilitating the pioneering process all the way".

There are only two survivors in the world, and both are female and unable to carry calves.

For decades the story of the northern white rhinoceros has been a tale of decline.

Three of the last northern white rhinos reside in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia County, where the last male, which was globally known as Sudan, died in March previous year. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011.

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