Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Scientists Fertilize Eggs From Last Northern White Rhinos

Animals
Scientists Fertilize Eggs From Last Northern White Rhinos
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.

On Thursday, Maryland will become the first state in the nation to implement a ban on foam takeout containers. guruXOOX / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Maryland will become the first state in the nation Thursday to implement a ban on foam takeout containers.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A sea turtle and tropical fish swim in Oahu, Hawaii. M.M. Sweet / Moment / Getty Images

By Ajit Niranjan

Leaders from across the world have promised to turn environmental degradation around and put nature on the path to recovery within a decade.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke from the Glass Fire rises from the hills on September 27, 2020 in Calistoga, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Just days after a new report detailed the "unequivocal and pervasive role" climate change plays in the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, new fires burned 10,000 acres on Sunday as a "dome" of hot, dry air over Northern California created ideal fire conditions over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
Sir David Attenborough speaks at the launch of the UK-hosted COP26 UN Climate Summit at the Science Museum on Feb. 4, 2020 in London, England. Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool / Getty Images

Sir David Attenborough wants to share a message about the climate crisis. And it looks like his fellow Earthlings are ready to listen.

Read More Show Less
People walk down a flooded street as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Kevin T. Smiley

When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.

New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch