First-Ever White Rhino IVF Pregnancy Brings Hope For Subspecies Survival

by | Jan 25, 2024 | Environmental News, Wildlife

Home » Environmental News » First-Ever White Rhino IVF Pregnancy Brings Hope For Subspecies Survival

In a groundbreaking development from Berlin, scientists have announced the first successful White Rhino IVF Pregnancy, marking a significant step forward in the efforts to save the critically endangered northern white rhino subspecies from the brink of extinction.

The white rhinoceros is divided into two subspecies: the northern and the southern white rhinos. The plight of the northern white rhino captured global attention when the last surviving male passed away in 2018, leaving just two females who are unable to carry pregnancies to term. In contrast, the southern white rhino population is relatively more stable. The breakthrough White Rhino IVF Pregnancy offers hope for the subspecies’ survival, demonstrating a pivotal advancement in conservation efforts.

In an innovative conservation approach, the scientists’ team harvested eggs from the remaining female northern white rhinos. It fertilized them with sperm from deceased males of the same subspecies. These embryos are intended to be implanted into surrogate mothers from the southern white rhino population.

First-Ever White Rhino IVF Pregnancy Brings Hope For Subspecies Survival

As a preliminary step, an embryo from a southern white rhino was transferred to a surrogate mother within the same subspecies at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on September 24, 2023. This procedure served as a crucial proof of concept for the scientists.

The BioRescue team, supported by the German government, shared the exciting news of a successful 70-day pregnancy, showcasing a well-developed male embryo measuring 6.4 cm (2.5 inches). This achievement was hailed as a significant milestone by Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the reproduction management department at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, during a press conference held at Berlin’s Tierpark Zoo.

Hildebrandt expressed optimism about the project’s future, stating, “We achieved something which was not believed to be possible together. That milestone allows us to produce northern white rhino calves in the next two and a half years.

The northern white rhinos, which are grey despite their name, were once widespread across East and Central Africa. However, their numbers plummeted due to relentless poaching, primarily for their valuable horns.

The BioRescue consortium’s efforts represent a race against time to preserve this subspecies. With the successful proof of concept for the IVF procedure, the team is now poised to proceed with the transfer of northern white rhino embryos, offering a glimmer of hope for the revival of this near-extinct subspecies. This pioneering achievement not only underscores the potential of scientific innovation in wildlife conservation but also rekindles hope for the northern white rhino’s future.

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