Menu

IVF to Revive Endangered White Rhino Population

Scientists plan to use in vitro fertilization to preserve a species with only three remaining members in the wild.

Jul 20, 2017
Diana Kwon

Ceratotherium simumWIKIMEDIA, HEIN WASCHEFORTUsing in vitro fertilization (IVF), scientists hope to revitalize populations of the endangered northern white rhino (Ceratotherium cottoni).

Illegal poaching has wiped out northern white rhino populations. Only three are left in the wild: a 40-year-old male and two younger females. The remaining animals are currently housed at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, where they are protected by armed guards. Although southern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) were also once endangered, conservation efforts boosted their population back to over 20,000 animals.

Because age and fertility issues make it impossible for the remaining northern whites to breed naturally, scientists hope to create new offspring in test tubes. Before that happens, researchers plan to test the procedure on southern white rhinos first.

According to the Telegraph, Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, which owns the three remaining northern white rhinos, is organizing the effort. This week, researchers gathered nine southern white rhino eggs from Longleat safari park, a zoo in the U.K.

Those eggs are now at a clinic in Italy that specializes in assisted reproduction for animals. There, scientists have fertilized the eggs with southern white sperm and cryogenically frozen them. They will eventually implant these back into rhinos. 

Researchers plan to extract eggs from the northern white rhinos in Kenya later this year. Once those eggs are fertilized, scientists will plant the embryos into surrogate southern white mothers.

If this process is unsuccessful, scientists will try creating hybrid southern and north white rhinos instead.

“Our great hope is to go to Africa to collect eggs from these last two northern white females and the fertilise them so we would have a pure bred northern white rhino embryo,” Robert Hermes of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany tells the BBC. “But the last northern whites could die any time: anything could happen to them, then all their genetics would be lost. If we have at least 50 percent of this preserved in a hybrid—we would preserve at least half for future generations.”

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.