(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has created two more embryos of the critically endangered northern white rhinoceros. Thus, the total number of viable embryos has increased to five. This was reported on Tuesday by Reuters.
According to him, the coronavirus pandemic had a great impact on the work of researchers. “2020 was a really difficult year for all of us, but giving up is not in the nature of any real scientist,” research team leader Thomas Hildebrandt of the Berlin-based Leibniz Association for Zoology and Wildlife told Reuters. “Christmas gave us two embryos. And we are very happy about that,” he added.
They are currently placed in liquid nitrogen in a laboratory in Italy and are awaiting transplantation to surrogate mothers. The first two embryos created in September last year and another embryo produced in January are also awaiting transplantation in surrogate mothers. Scientists hope that in the next two decades they will be able to increase the population of these animals. At the same time, the researchers expect that the first cub of the northern white rhinoceros will be able to be born in this way in three years.
The last two northern white rhinoceros on earth, the females Najin and Fatu, are now in the Ol Pejeta nature reserve in Kenya. It was from them in 2019 that ten eggs were taken, from which scientists create embryos using the genetic material obtained in 2014 from the last male of this species of rhinoceros. For a number of medical reasons, Najin and Fatu cannot bear offspring, which will be done by the female southern white rhinoceros in the Ol Pageta nature reserve.
Modern science believes that the northern white rhino is a special subspecies of rhinos. Back in the 60s of the last century, their livestock in the traditional habitat – the upper Nile – reached 20 thousand. These animals lived in the territory of modern South Sudan, Uganda, CAR and DR Congo. However, by the beginning of this millennium, they were exterminated, and in 2008, poachers killed the last northern white rhinos that lived in the wild.
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