First rhino IVF pregnancy performed in hopes of saving species from extinction

Help is on the way to save the northern white rhino which is the most endangered mammal on earth through IVF treatment, as ITV News' Martin Stew reports

Scientists have successfully managed to perform the world's first in-vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer on a rhino.

In September 2023, a lab-created rhino embryo was implanted into a surrogate mother, marking a huge medical and conservationist breakthrough for the animal.

Unfortunately, after 70 days the mother died because of an unrelated bacterial infection.

In this pregnancy, the BioRescue team used a southern white rhino embryo and mother but it indicated what scientists describe as a "cornerstone in the mission to save the northern white rhino from extinction."

Najin and her daughter Fatu are the last remaining northern white rhinos in the world

It could be a significant step towards the protection of the northern white rhino, a subspecies of the white rhino, which is on the brink of extinction after illegal poaching led to a complete wipeout from the wild.

Now, just two females - Najin and her daughter Fatu - exist and are kept under close observation in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The IVF preservation project - carried out by the BioRescue team - will use the sperm from the last living male, and combining it with the eggs taken from one of the females. the embryo would then in theory be implanted in a southern white rhino surrogate.

Before the mothers death, she carried a well-developed 6.4 cm long male embryo.

Announcing the news, BioRescue described the embryo transfer as a "proof of concept and allow to now safely move to the transfer of northern white rhino embryos,"

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