Scientists have withdrawn one of the last two northern white rhinos in the world from a breeding program that sought to save the species from extinction.
The decision to stop egg collection for Najin, 32, followed an “ethical risk assessment” which took into account her age and other factors.
Neither Najin nor her daughter Fatu are capable of carrying out a baby rhino.
The last male of the species died in 2018, but his sperm was collected and used to fertilize the eggs.
The procedure involves a team of veterinarians extracting the rhino’s eggs, using techniques developed over years of research. The eggs are then sent to an Italian laboratory for fertilization, using the sperm of two deceased males.
Twelve embryos have been created so far and scientists hope to implant them in surrogate mothers selected from a population of southern white rhinos.
BioRescue, the scientific group leading the scheme, said they assessed several risks before deciding to stop collecting Najin’s eggs.
“Withdrawing an individual from a conservation program due to animal welfare considerations is usually not a matter to think about for long … but when an individual is 50 percent of your population, consider this decision multiple times. “said Chief Veterinary Officer Frank Göritz and Stephen Ngulu.
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In addition to her advanced age, ultrasound scans revealed several small benign tumors on Najin’s cervix and uterus and a cyst on her left ovary.
But BioRescue said it would remain part of the program in other ways, such as providing tissue samples for stem cell research.
It is hoped that she will also be able to “pass on her knowledge and social behavior” to her future offspring.
Northern white rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction due to poaching and habitat loss.
Najin was born in a Czech zoo, but a decade later she was moved to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, where she lived under armed protection.
Consisting of two subspecies: northern white rhinos and southern white rhinos
Northern:Population two, under armed escort in Kenya
Southern:Population estimated at 20,000, mainly in southern Africa
Differences:The northerners are slightly smaller and less hairy than the southerners
Poachers:Target them for their horns to smuggle to Asia for remedies
Rhino horns:Made of keratin – the same substance as nails
Eggs taken from rare rhinos in an attempt to save the species
- 23 August 2019
Last male northern white rhino dies
- March 20, 2018
The discovery of the embryo “can save the rhino”
- 4th July 2018
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