Northern white rhino retired from world-first breeding project

Najin is pictured in the foregound with her daughter Fatu. They are the last two northern white rhinos left on Earth.
Scientists working to restore the endangered northern white rhinoceros have announced that they will stop harvesting eggs from one of the two remaining living specimens in an unprecedented breeding program.

Biorescue, a scientific consortium, stated that it decided to retire Najin, a 32-year-old female, from its ambitious project because of safety and risk.

Najin's daughter Fatuthe sole northern white rhino on Earth, is now the only donor to a program trying to save this species.

Biorescue stated in a statement that they had made the decision after weighing the risks and benefits for each individual and the whole species.

The multinational consortium has been collecting eggs from Najin, Fatu and other locations since 2019 in an assisted reproduction program that was never tried before in rhinos.

A team of international vets performed a very risky procedure on them. They anesthetized them for nearly two hours and extracted their eggs using methods that took years of research and development.

The eggs were flown to Italy by two deceased males for fertilization, development, and preservation.

The consortium announced in July that they had created three more embryos from the subspecies. This brings the total to 12.

However, the embryos that are viable come from younger rhinos and there are risks to the program, according Jan Stejskal (director of international projects at Safari park Dvur Kralovs), where Najin was born.

Stejskal stated that she will continue to be a part the program, such as providing tissue samples for stem-cell approaches which can be done with minimal invasion.

Fatu and Najin are not capable of carrying a baby to term. Therefore, surrogate mothers will be chosen from the southern white rhino population.

The reproduction program is the last chance for majestic animals to survive.

Sudan was the last male to die at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, in 2018. There, Najin, Fatu, and their 24-hour guardianship, they died.

Although Rhinos are very rare in natural predators, poaching has decimated their numbers since the 1970s.

Modern rhinos have been roaming the planet for 26,000,000 years. It is believed that over a million of them still live in the wild as of the middle 19th century.

Continue reading Scientists create embryos in order to save the northern white rhinoceros

2021 AFP