An international consortium of scientists endeavoring to save the northern white rhino from extinction has just announced a significant triumph. Recently, 10 eggs had been successfully harvested from the two surviving female white rhinos -Najin and Fatu. Now, scientists revealed that seven of these eggs were successfully matured and artificially inseminated using ICSI (Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection) technique.
Conservationists and researchers will now have to wait and watch if the fertilized eggs form viable embryos that can be transferred into a southern white rhino surrogate mother. There are only two surviving white rhinos, the mother and daughter duo of Najin, and her daughter, Fatu , who live at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and have health complications that prevent them carrying a pregnancy to term themselves. They are all that remains of an entire subspecies of northern white rhinos on Earth.
After the triumphant announcement by scientists that they have successfully harvested eggs from the mother and daughter pair, there is vibrant hope to keep this critically endangered animal alive. This accomplishment is a pivotal step forward in the desperate and ambitious initiative to prevent the northern white rhinoceros from fading irretrievably into extinction.
Animal reproduction expert Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, “We were able to harvest a total of 10 oocytes – five from Najin and five from Fatu – showing that both females can still provide eggs and thus help to save these magnificent creatures”.
The eggs were transported to Italy, where scientists carried out the process of rhino IVF fertilization with the cryopreserved sperm extracted from the now-deceased male northern white rhinos Suni and Saút .
“I was here five years ago when we found out Fatu and Najin would not be able to reproduce naturally, and we realised we’d need to pursue artificial means,” one of the team, Jan Stejskal from the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, told National Geographic.
“Now it’s finally happening.”