Scientific reproduction could save northern white rhino from extinction

Posted by Zimasa Katamzi on 23 June 2021

There are only two northern white rhinos that remain alive today. Both of these rhinos are infertile females but an international effort to help bring this species back from the edge is at hand.

A new population of Northern White rhino in production

Nine rhino embryos are currently in production at the Wildlife Reproduction Medicine board at the University of Berlin and the team of scientists is under enormous pressure to birth a calf before the remaining females perish.

Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt Head of the Department for Reproduction Management at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research said in a radio interview with Patricia Karvelas on the RN Drive he is confident that they will be able to save the species from extinction.

It is vital that these calves are birthed while the two female rhinos are still alive, as this will allow the calves a better chance to adapt and to learn how to live as northern white rhinos.

‘The next step is the embryo transfer and to make sure that the pregnancy will be safe and successful,’ said Hildebrandt.

Once the rhino is born and is on the ground, the genetic diversity of the northern white rhino population will be increased by stem cell technology, and to make this a successful step, Hildebrandt and his team are working very intensively with their Japanese and German colleagues.

He also expressed that working closely with the last of this species is a privilege, especially because he had always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.

The scientists have set themselves a deadline and are looking at birthing a rhino calf in the next two to three years, and 15 to 20 years to have an entire population.

Picture: Getaway gallery

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