NORTHERN WHITE RHINO
These are the last two of their kind on planet earth. Back to Africa initiated the move of the 4 last potentially fertile northern white rhino from zoo Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic to Ol Pejeta ranch in northern Kenya in 2009. Sadly, they never bred!
An international project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to make the seemingly impossible a reality by developing methods of assisted reproduction and stem cell research under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research . Their objective is to produce pure northern white rhinos, and they are doing this by harvesting eggs from Fatu. These eggs will then be injected with northern white rhino sperms and the embryos produced will eventually be transferred to surrogate southern white rhino females, hopefully with the result of a pure northern white rhino birth!
Likewise the SAN Diego Wild Life Alliance is doing similar work including the production of eggs and sperms using pluripotent stem cells from 12 northern white rhino cell lines in their “frozen zoo”. Embryos will be transplanted into surrogate southern white females at the Nikita Kahn rhino rescue centre.
Their work is not just about northern white rhino and as this technology could be used to save other rhino species such as the Sumatran rhino.
At the same time same time field conservationists are restoring populations of southern white rhino in northern white rhino habitat. A large number of southern white rhino will soon be moved to one of the last refuges of the northern white rhino at Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hopefully one day the genes of the northern white rhino will be perpetuated in rhino populations in area where they occurred in days gone by!