Quantcast

Scientists Fertilize Eggs From Last Northern White Rhinos

Animals
Scientists have successfully fertilized eggs taken from two female northern white rhinos, a year after the last remaining male died. DW

Seven eggs from the world's last northern white rhinoceroces have been successfully fertilized in a lab, scientists announced on Monday.


Ten eggs were extracted from two females, Najin and Fatu, last week in Kenya, but only seven of them were fit to be artificially inseminated.

"We expect some of them will develop into an embryo," Cesare Galli, a founder of the Italian assisted-breeding company Avantea.

The team used frozen sperm that had been harvested from two male northern white rhinos before they died.

"This is the next critical step in hopefully creating viable embryos that can be frozen and then later on transferred to southern white rhino surrogate mothers," the scientists said in a statement.

Veterinarians and wildlife experts are hoping to use a surrogate mother rhino, as Najin and Fatu are unable to carry a pregnancy.

Sudan, the last northern white rhino, was unable to stand up in the end. He was treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. Veterinary experts took the decision to euthanize the animal. "At the age of 45, Sudan was a very old man, well over 100 years old in human equivalent years," said the charity Helping Rhinos.

Saving the Species

Sudan, the world's last male northern white rhinoceros, was euthanized last year after age-related health issues began to worsen.

The 45-year-old rhino shot to fame in 2017 when he was listed as "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World" on the dating app Tinder, in a fundraising effort.

He left behind his daughter Najin and his granddaughter Fatu as the last remaining members of their species.

The team of scientists involved in trying to save the species is being led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and is being funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research.

The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five northern white rhinos that could be released in their natural habitat in Africa, although that process could take decades.

Other species of rhino, including the southern white rhino and the black rhino, are frequently targeted by poachers who kill the animals for their horns to sell in illegal markets in Asia.

In the 1970s, Kenya was home to around 20,000 rhinos, but decades of poaching have reduced the number to an estimated 650.

This white rhino subspecies made headlines last year following the death of Sudan, the last known male of his kind, making the species functionally extinct. Some scientists are cautiously optimistic that it could be brought back with the help of IVF technology.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More