Only two northern white rhinos are left in the world. Both are female. To preserve their subspecies, a group of scientists has turned to advanced reproductive technologies.
Eggs extracted from the last two female northern white rhinos have been fertilised with sperm from the now-dead last male in March 2018, though it will be about 10 days before it's known whether the eggs have become embryos, an Italian assisted-breeding company said on Monday, August 26th.
Cesare Galli, a founder of Avantea and an expert in animal cloning, said, "We expect some of them will develop into an embryo," adding that only seven of 10 eggs extracted last week from the females in Kenya could be used in the fertilisation attempts on Sunday, August 25th, using frozen sperm from the now-dead last male.
Galli, a founder of the company, said that to improve chances for a species' continuation, it is better not to "get to the last two individuals before you use this technology".
Sudan, the 45-year-year-old last male northern white rhino on Earth, gained fame in 2017 with his listing as "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World" on the Tinder dating app in a fundraising effort. Sudan was euthanised after age-related complications.
Unfortunately, decades of poaching decimated the northern white rhino's numbers. In addition, other rhinos — the southern white rhino and the black rhino — are prey for poachers, who kill them for their horns to supply illegal markets in parts of Asia.
Wildlife experts and veterinarians are hoping that the species can reproduce via a surrogate mother rhino. The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habit in Africa. That could take decades.