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.