Kenya: Embryos may give white rhinos new lease on life

Scientists in Kenya announce creation of 2 new embryos to save nearly extinct white rhinos

Andrew Wasike   | 14.01.2021
Kenya: Embryos may give white rhinos new lease on life FILE PHOTO


Scientists working to save the northern white rhino from extinction through advanced reproduction technologies announced a breakthrough on Thursday.

In a statement, they announced the successful creation of two new northern white rhino embryos. bringing the total number of specimens of the nearly extinct rhino to five, including two females in the East African nation of Kenya.

“On December 13, the team of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Safari Park Dvur Kralové, Kenya Wildlife Service, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy successfully performed an oocyte collection in Kenya,” the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya said in a statement.

“After immediate transportation of the recovered oocytes across continents, the embryos were created at Avantea laboratory in Cremona [Italy] following maturation and fertilization of the oocytes with the semen of Suni [a northern white rhino who died in 2014 at age 34]. They were cryopreserved on Christmas eve.”

Females Najin and Fatu at the Kenyan conservancy are the only remaining northern white rhinos in the world.

The scientists plan on transplanting the embryos into southern white rhinos who will act as surrogate mothers to produce a pure breed of northern white rhinos.

Najib Balala, Kenya’s tourism and wildlife minister, said: “On behalf of the people and the government of Kenya, I would wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge with appreciation the impressive progress achieved so far by the joint team of Kenyan and international scientists working to save the endangered northern white rhino from extinction.”

He added: “We must do everything possible to save this species from extinction. Remember, extinction is forever. Once we lose this species, we will have lost an iconic animal which will not be seen again by future generations.”​​​​​​​

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