The northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is one of the two subspecies of white rhino. According to IUCN estimates, these animals are “probably” extinct in the wild: in March 2018, only two female specimens remained alive.
Fortunately, the researchers claim to have successfully created another northern white rhinoceros embryo in an effort to keep the species alive. The embryo is the third to have been created in a laboratory with eggs taken from the females and inseminated with the sperm of the male specimens (now deceased). The embryos will be transferred to a surrogate mother in the coming months.
The ultimate goal is to create a flock of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habitat in Africa. This could take decades. The two remaining northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, are hosted by Kenya, and the three embryos were created with Fatu’s eggs. ” Now the team will do everything they can to get the same result with Najin before it’s too late for her, ” says Thomas Hildebrandt of Zoo & Wildlife Research.
The procedure is safe and can be done regularly before the animals get too old. The last male northern white rhino was Sudan, which at the age of 45 was suppressed in 2018 due to certain diseases. The last two representatives, Najin and Fatu, will be essential to keep the species alive.