By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - The Kenyan government and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced Wednesday that they successfully produced three pure northern white rhino embryos ready for implantation into southern white rhino as surrogate mothers in coming months.
Kenya Wildlife Service, a state organization, said in a statement that just a few days over Christmas they were able to create a new embryo of the northern white rhino species by artificially inseminating eggs from the two remaining females using frozen sperm from deceased males.
Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister Najib Balala said: “This is a big win for Kenya and its partners, as the northern white rhinos are faced with the threat of imminent extinction.”
He added that the Kenyan government is “glad that the northern white rhino in-vitro fertilization project by a consortium of scientists and conservationists from Kenya, Czechia, Germany and Italy collaborative partnership has been able to successfully produce three pure northern white rhino embryos ready for implantation into southern white rhino as surrogate mothers in coming months.”
Currently, the whole world has just two remaining female northern white rhinos named Najin and Fatu, both suffer from various health problems caused by age and are infertile.
According to the scientists, the next plan is “to select a group of southern white rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy from which a female could serve as a surrogate mother for the northern white rhino embryo,” thus producing pure breed northern white rhinos.
Balala said that the next step in saving the rhinos will happen in the next few months.
Richard Vigne, managing director of Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya said: “We have taken yet another small step along the road of saving the northern white rhino from extinction. We have a long way to go and success is far from assured, but Kenya continues to play her part.”