Posted on 2020-06-30 13:28:19
The last two northern white rhino left in the world are in the Ol Petrs Conservancy in Kenya. They are mother and daughter, Majin, who is 40, and Fatu, who is 19. Father and grandfather, Sudan, died last year.
African News Agency has reported that science and technology company, Merck, has offered reproductive technologies to help save this magnificent species from extinction. Merck has been a leader in assisted reproduction technologies for the past sixty years. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has donated R66.5 million rands to the BioRescue project which has a global team of scientists from Germany, Japan, Italy, the Czech Republic and America.
Sudan’s semen was harvested during his lifetime and is being stored at an extremely low temperature. It is felt that Najin and Fatu would not be physically able to carry a pregnancy to term, so their eggs will be harvested and later used in in vitro fertilisation. The embryo will be transplanted into the uterus of a surrogate southern white rhino.
It is hoped that this will be successful and will give rise to a new population of northern white rhino that would live in the wild.
The African News Agency reports that, owing to the small number of eggs and amount of semen available, the stem cell technique will “increase the genetic variability of the population”.
This project to save the northern white rhino as a species is the first to use in vitro fertilisation in an attempt to save a species from disappearing. If this daring, greatly cutting-edge technology will be explored by Merck to save other species from extinction. It is possible that as many as 2,000 threatened species could be saved from extinction every year.