The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
With Only 3 Northern White Rhinos Left in the World, Scientists Are Turning to Stem Cells to Save the Species
Scientists hoping to save the critically endangered species, are turning to stem cells to aid reproduction. They plan to make stem cells out of adult rhino skin cells through a process called iPS, induced pluripotent stem cells. Lab-grown stem cells of this kind are pluripotent, meaning they can make any type of cell in the body. Scientists plan on creating northern white rhino sperm and egg cells with this method.
Those cells can then be combined to form embryos, a NowThis video reported. The formed embryos will be placed in a surrogate female northern white rhino, who will hopefully carry them to term. Scientists are not sure if this process will work, but its one of the last chances the northern white rhino has of avoiding extinction.
The use of the pluripotent cells will allow for the development of genetic diversity within the species, which is needed to reproduce in the future. DNA of a dozen northern white rhinos, which has been preserved in genetic banks in Berlin and San Diego, will be used in this project, according to the projects GoFundMe page.
The northern white rhino originally ranged over parts of northwestern Uganda, eastern Central African Republic, southern South Sudan and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Poachers reduced their population from 500 to 15 during the 1970s and 1980s.
From the 1990s through mid-2003, the northern white rhinos' population recovered, but not to original levels. By mid-2003 there were 32 animals in the wild. The population was then once again reduced by poaching until there were only 5 to 10 animals left in the world.
White rhinos are especially vulnerable to poaching because they are relatively unaggressive, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The last three northern white rhinos are watched 24/7 by guards. This rhino species cannot be found in any zoos.
As of 2011, the species is considered probably extinct. There have been no sightings of wild northern white rhinos since 2006.
Rhinos were hunted by poachers for their horns, which are used for many purposes. Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine for illnesses from hangovers to cancer, WWF said. Horns are also in demand simply as a symbol of wealth in societies such as Vietnam. One kilo of rhino horn sells for $60,000 on the black market, according to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Southern white rhinos, the only other species of white rhinos, has rebounded significantly. WWF reports their population is 20,000 or more.
Watch this NowThis video for more information on the conversation efforts for the northern white rhinos:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.