Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two Females Hold White Rhino's Last Hope

Three weeks ago the first ever northern white rhino was born in captivity. Buoyed by this success, scientists are planning to launch one of the most high tech and aggressive breeding programs in history to save the rhino - the world's most endangered large mammal - from extinction. Just 2 fertile females remain of a once mighty population that roamed over large areas of central Africa.

Now a team of researchers in Budapest are planning to use artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and sex-selection of embryos to boost the numbers of northern whites as quickly as possible while there is still time.

If this team succeed(s), they will have pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats in wildlife conservation. Most experts assume the northern white is doomed and will join the dodo, passenger pigeon, quagga and Tasmanian wolf as victims of the predations of modern humans.

Since 1960, South African conservation efforts have helped the southern white rhino (the near cousin to the northern) rebound to a healthy population 11,000. However, ongoing political unrest and poaching throughout the northern white's natural range in Uganda, Sudan and Congo have led to the decimation of the species. Just 4 animals are believed to remain in the wild, combined with an additional 10 in zoos. The two females who hold the last hope for the species - Najin and her daughter Fatu - both reside at Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic.

5 comments:

WindWhisperer said...

This procedure has proven successful for other animals that are close to extinction or thought to be extinct already (some species of large cats and other animals too). Animal right activists sometimes frown on this, but there's starting to be a reversal in the thinking. If these technologies can be used to save endangered species and reintroduce them into the wild, then they should not be seem as exploitive.

Gill said...

This is a beautiful picture and story. It's good to see that compassion can come from the human race as well as all the other less desirable traits.

Janis Mara said...

"Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and sex-selection of embryos...." Whatever happened to soft music, a glass of wine and sweet nothings? Let's make a list of suggestions and forward them on to the zookeepers. A staged reading of Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" is probably not on the list.

Anonymous said...

This contradicts a report published here, which says that the first insemination of the white rhinos at Dvur will occur "later this year" (2007)
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2007/03/06/2003351242
Also, if that effort is succesful, it will not be the first northern white rhino born in captivity, only the first by artifical insemination.

Anonymous said...

i think poachers should all be tortured and killed. destruction of the earth is imminent though, there's no hope!