Scientists use embryos to save the white rhino from extinction

Quick notes

  • The last male northern white rhino has recently passed away leaving scientists in a race to save this beautiful animal from the brink of extinction.

  • Scientists are hoping to take these embryos and impregnate a southern white rhino using IVF as a surrogate.

  • Some experts even say that rhino horns are becoming more popular and lucrative than drugs.

The last male northern white rhino has recently passed away leaving scientists in a race to save this beautiful animal from the brink of extinction. There are only two female white rhinos remaining in the world and neither can carry a pregnancy.

Scientists recently announced that they were able to successfully fertilize embryos from the last two remaining white rhinos. It’s their hope that they can save these amazing creatures from disappearing altogether.

Rhinos are on the verge of extinction

In 2014, the Ol Pejeta Conservatory inherited four white rhinos. There were two males and two females.

In 2018, the last remaining male white rhino, Sudan, died of natural causes. The only other male rhino had passed in 2014. Since then, the two remaining female rhinos, Najin and Fatu have been the only northern white rhinos left on the planet.

Before the 45-year old male rhino had passed, he’d been living under armed guard and the conservatory. Thankfully, sperm from Sudan had already been extracted and frozen in the hopes of someday fertilizing more northern white rhino embryos.

Aiming to raise money in support of this effort and for the care of Sudan in his older age, conservationists made a Tinder profile for the rhino.

Pixabay / 103 images

Making the embryos

Despite having one male and two female rhinos left, none of the rhinos remaining can carry an offspring. Sudan was well past reproductive age and the two remaining females were unable to carry a child.

This left conservationists needing to take matters into their own hands. Scientists attempted to breed a baby rhino in a lab setting.

Sex cells were taken and harvested from the two remaining white rhino females who aren’t able to carry children naturally. Their eggs were fertilized using sperm from the two deceased white rhino males.

Scientists are hoping to take these embryos and impregnate a southern white rhino using IVF as a surrogate. While there is no guarantee that IVF will work, it’s our only chance of keeping these species alive.

The American Wildlife Foundation also shares that it could cost over $9 million to perform the IVF treatment and deliver and care for newborn rhinos.

Rhino poaching is lucrative and all too popular

Rhino populations have been on the decline for years. Rhinos are unfortunately targeted by poachers. In Asia, it’s believed that rhino horns can cure any number of ailments. As is the case with elephants, they are aggressively poached for their horns and skin which are extremely lucrative.

Some experts even say that rhino horns are becoming more popular and lucrative than drugs. To protect the rhinos in the conservatory, they were monitored and guarded 24 hours a day.

Another rhino subspecies, the western black rhino, became already became extinct in 2013. The eastern black rhino, which has a population of around a thousand, could be the next rhino species to become extinct.

Conservationists are also concentrating on saving the southern white rhino which as around 20,000 remaining in its population.

Because there are only two white rhinos remaining, it’s becoming even more crucial to save this precious animal.

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