Two white rhino embryos are created with frozen sperm in efforts to save the near-extinct species which has just two living females and NO males left

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  • Eggs harvested from females and frozen sperm from dead males create embryos
  • They’ve been stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother 
  • The coming months would be dedicated to optimising a technique to transfer

Conservationists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos in a key step towards pulling the species back from the brink of extinction

Conservationists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos in a key step towards pulling the species back from the brink of extinction

In August they underwent a highly risky procedure carried out by a team of international vets, which saw them anaesthetised for almost two hours, and their eggs extracted using techniques that have taken years of research and development

In August they underwent a highly risky procedure carried out by a team of international vets, which saw them anaesthetised for almost two hours, and their eggs extracted using techniques that have taken years of research and development 

Conservationists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos in a key step towards pulling the species back from the brink of extinction.

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

The last male, named Sudan, died in Kenya last year, making scientists the animals’ last chance.

Now, using eggs harvested from the females and frozen sperm from deceased males, a team in Italy’s Cremona have been able to create two viable embryos, according to the BioRescue international consortium of scientists.

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

Today, poaching for their horn is the main threat. 

The white rhino is particularly vulnerable to poaching because it is relatively unaggressive and lives in herds. 

SOURCE: WWF 

Najin, 30, and daughter Fatu, 19, are the last of the subspecies of white rhino, and live under 24-hour armed guard. 

In August they underwent a highly risky procedure carried out by a team of international vets, which saw them anaesthetised for almost two hours, and their eggs extracted using techniques that have taken years of research and development.

At the Italian biotech laboratory Avantea, those eggs were then fertilized with sperm from males Suni and Saut – though only two of Fatu’s eggs developed into viable embryos.

They have now been stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother in the near future.

‘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, communications director at the Dvur Kralove Zoo, where Najin and Fatu were born.

The coming months would be dedicated to optimising a technique to transfer the embryos into a surrogate rhino, he said.

Richard Vigne, managing director of Ol Pejeta, hailed the ‘major step forward’, but warned ‘we have a very long way to go’.

‘Global human behaviour still needs to radically change if the lessons of the northern white rhinos are to be learned,’ he said.

There are five rhino species remaining on earth, of which black and white rhinos are found in Africa. The northern white rhino is generally considered a subspecies of white rhino although some scientists believe it to be a sixth species.

Rhinos have few predators in the wild due to their size but have been devastated by poaching for their horns – used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Modern rhinos have plodded the earth for 26 million years. As recently as the mid-19th century there were more than one million in Africa. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011.

The northern white rhino once roamed Uganda, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Chad.

It is hoped a revived population – which could take up to 70 years – could eventually be re-introduced into secure habitats in these areas.



Source By Breaking News Website | BreakingNews.WS