The Associated PressJanuary 16, 2020 11:47:13 IST
The researchers say they have successfully created another northern white rhino embryo almost extinct in a global effort to keep the species alive. There are only two animals left, and both are female.
The viable embryo is only the third that is created in a laboratory with ovules taken from females and inseminated with frozen sperm from dead males, according to Wednesday’s statement. The embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred to a surrogate mother, a southern white rhinoceros, in the coming months.
“It is surprising to see that we can reverse the tragic loss of this subspecies through science,” said Kenyan wildlife minister Najib Balala in the statement from the Kenyan Wildlife Service and conservationists in Kenya, the Republic Czech, Germany and Italy. .
The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that can be returned to their natural habitat in Africa. That could take decades.
Kenya hosts the remaining two northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu. The three viable embryos have been created with Fatu eggs.
“Now the team will do everything possible to achieve the same result for Najin, 30, before it is too late for her,” said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research in Germany.
The procedure has proven to be safe and can be done regularly before animals get too old, according to the new statement.
The next step is to select the southern white rhinos among those of the Ken Pe Ol Conservation to serve as a surrogate mother, said the Kenyan wildlife minister.
The decades of poaching have had a high cost in rhino species. Animals are killed by their horns, which have long been used as carving material and appreciated in traditional Chinese medicine for their supposed healing properties.
The last white rhino of the male north was a 45-year-old man named Sudan, who gained fame in 2017 when he was listed as “The world’s most eligible single” in the application of Tinder dating as part of a fundraising effort. Sudan, named for the country where it was born in nature, was sacrificed in 2018 due to age-related diseases.
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