First Successful Embryo Implantation in Southern White Rhino May Offer Hope for Saving Northern White Rhino Species

Scientists have achieved a significant breakthrough in rhino conservation by successfully implanting an embryo into a southern white rhino—a first-of-its-kind procedure. The bio-rescue project team, aiming to resurrect the nearly extinct northern white rhino species, has mastered the techniques of egg collection, embryo development, and now, embryo implantation into surrogate mothers. With only two non-reproductive northern white rhinos left, this advancement offers hope for the species’ revival.

  • An international team has successfully implanted an embryo into a southern white rhino, marking a significant step in rhino conservation.
  • The procedure is part of the bio-rescue project’s efforts to save the northern white rhino, of which only two females remain, neither of which can carry a pregnancy.
  • The project involved learning to collect eggs, create embryos, and now, the implantation of these embryos into surrogate mothers.
  • The process includes collecting eggs from the last northern white rhinos in Kenya, fertilizing them in a lab in Italy, and freezing the embryos for future use.
  • Embryos are implanted in surrogate mothers in Kenya under semi-wild conditions at the precise time when the females are in estrus, with the entire process being delicate and complex.
  • The southern white rhino is being used as a surrogate due to the availability of genetic material, with the aim to eventually implant a pure northern white rhino embryo into a southern white rhino surrogate.
  • The success of this procedure could lead to the birth of a northern white rhino calf in the foreseeable future, with rhino pregnancies lasting approximately 16 months.

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