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A major breakthrough in saving the northern white rhino through artificial insemination

For the first time in the world, scientists have succeeded in impregnating a rhino through artificial insemination (IVF). For the first time, a team of scientists implanted a lab-grown rhinoceros embryo into the womb of a surrogate mother. This action, which led to the animal’s pregnancy, can be considered a big step to save the northern white rhinoceros, which is on the verge of extinction.

Production Southern white rhinoceros embryo through artificial insemination, is a pilot project for the birth of the northern white rhinoceros in the future. In the 13th attempt by scientists to achieve a viable pregnancy, an egg was taken from a female southern white rhino from a zoo in Belgium and fertilized with sperm from a male rhino from Austria. Then, the embryo was implanted in the womb of a southern white rhinoceros in Kenya.

Southern white rhinos could save their relative from extinction

the doctor Susan Holtza scientist at the Leibniz Wildlife Research Institute in Germany and a member of the International Consortium to Save the Species, to BBC “Achieving the first successful embryo transfer in rhinos is a big step,” he said.

The fate of two species of African rhinoceros is intertwined. There are only two northern white rhinos left in the world; A mother named Nagin and her daughter Fatu. These two cannot reproduce alone and are actually considered extinct.

A long time ago, scientists have created a reserve of eggs by harvesting eggs from Fatu, which can one day save this species. The sperm of the last male rhinoceros, Sudan, was frozen before his death in 2018, and after being combined with Fatou’s eggs, 30 precious embryos were created to save the species.

The story of the southern white rhinoceros is not so sad. Efforts to protect and prevent hunting have caused the population of this species in nature to reach about 20,000 chains despite being exposed to the risk of illegal hunting. This is where southern white rhinos step in to help their close relatives.

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Professor Thomas Hildebrandt“The situation of the northern white rhinoceros for embryo transfer is quite special because the donor and recipient species are very close together,” says the director of the Leibniz Institute. So, the internal map is almost the same.”

The pregnant rhinoceros died of infection 70 days after pregnancy

A group of scientists successfully implanted a southern white rhinoceros embryo into the womb of a mother southern white rhinoceros and made this species pregnant through artificial insemination for the first time in the world. However, this great success was followed by a tragedy. A pregnant rhinoceros died only 70 days after pregnancy due to a clostridia infection.

In the post-mortem examination of the mother and the fetus, it was found that the fetus was male, 6.5 cm long, and according to the research team, it could have been born alive with a probability of 95%. Although maternal and fetal deaths are unfortunate, the successful pregnancy proves that it is possible to impregnate rhinos through artificial insemination. This step is very important; Because none of the two living females (Najin and Fatu) can get pregnant, and scientists must use a southern white rhino as a surrogate mother to create a northern white rhino cub.

“With this achievement, we are very confident that we can breed northern white rhinos this way and save the species from extinction,” Holtz says.

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