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.”

April 2019

Will Car T Cells Smash Tumors?

New trials take the therapy beyond the blood

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Myth Busting: The Best Way to Use Pure Water in the Lab
Myth Busting: The Best Way to Use Pure Water in the Lab
Download this white paper from ELGA LabWater to learn about the role of pure water in the laboratory and the advantages of in-house water purification!
Shimadzu's New Nexera UHPLC Series with AI and IoT Enhancements Sets Industry Standard for Intelligence, Efficiency and Design
Shimadzu's New Nexera UHPLC Series with AI and IoT Enhancements Sets Industry Standard for Intelligence, Efficiency and Design
Shimadzu Corporation announces the release of the Nexera Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph series, incorporating artificial intelligence as Analytical Intelligence, allowing systems to detect and resolve issues automatically. The Nexera series makes lab management simple by integrating IoT and device networking, enabling users to easily review instrument status, optimize resource allocation, and achieve higher throughput.
IDT lowers genomic barriers with powerful rhAmpSeq™ targeted sequencing system
IDT lowers genomic barriers with powerful rhAmpSeq™ targeted sequencing system
Increasing accuracy and reducing cost barriers, IDT’s innovative system delivers simple and cost-effective amplicon sequencing
Bio-Rad Introduces Isotype-Specific Secondary Antibodies
Bio-Rad Introduces Isotype-Specific Secondary Antibodies
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of its isotype-specific secondary antibodies. This new range of recombinant monoclonal antibodies, directed against the three main mouse isotypes: IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b, offer improved signal detection and specificity in imaging, ELISA, flow cytometry, and western blotting.