This Scientific Breakthrough Could Save the World's Most Endangered Mammal
The future is IVF, according to a team of researchers.
When the last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, died earlier this year at the age of 45, the world mourned the impending extinction of one of the Earth’s most majestic creatures.
But scientists say a new breakthrough in embryo research could provide the key to reviving the population, the BBC reports.
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"Everyone believed there was no hope for this sub-species," said Professor Thomas Hildebrandt, from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, in an interview with the BBC. "But with our knowledge now, we are very confident that this will work with northern white rhino (NWR) eggs and that we will be able to produce a viable population."
The team was recently successful in creating viable embryos from a closely related sub-species, using sperm from two dead males that was injected into eggs that had been safely extracted from a female and then pulsed with electrical current to stimulate the egg and sperm to fuse, noted the BBC.
With only two northern white rhinos known to be alive today — both infertile females — Hildebrandt’s team hopes their breakthrough technique will re-establish a viable NWR breeding population, reports Agence France Press (AFP).
"Our goal is to have in three years the first NWR calf born," Hildebrandt told AFP. "Taking into account 16 months of pregnancy, we have a little more than a year to have a successful implantation."