Hopes of reversing the imminent extinction of the northern white rhinos has been revived after scientists created two embryos of the endangered species in an Italian laboratory.
Scientists said this first ever in-vitro embryos may mark the turn of the tide in the fate of the nearly extinct northern white rhino.
The northern white rhinoceros population has been declining for decades, with only two remaining on the planet which renders their complete extinction as only a matter of time.
But an alarmed international consortium of scientists and conservationists has now achieved a milestone in assisted reproduction that may be a pivotal turning point in the fate of the northern white rhinos.
Using eggs collected from the two remaining females and frozen sperm from deceased males, they successfully created two northern white rhino embryos.
The embryos are now stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother in the near future.
The in-vitro creation of northern white rhino embryos was achieved at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy.
Prof Cesare Galli and his team matured and fertilised eggs collected on August 22 from Najin and Fatu, the two females living at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, with sperm from males Suni and Saut.
After the harvesting, the scientists and conservationists announced that 7 out of the 10 eggs were successfully matured and artificially inseminated.
This was achieved through ICSI (Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection) with the frozen sperm.
“We brought ten oocytes back from Kenya, five from each female. After incubation seven matured and were suitable for fertilisation,” said Galli.
After ten days of incubation, two of Fatu’s eggs developed into viable embryos that were cryopreserved for future transfer.
Najin’s eggs did not make it to a viable embryo despite the fact that one egg initiated segmentation.”