The Northern white rhino is already on the brink of extinction with just two living females in the world today. Sudan, the last surviving male of the species, passed away last year. Sadly, this is the result of years’ worth of animal poaching, and the two that remain are now protected by armed guards at all times.
The circumstances seem bleak for the Northern white rhino, and many are preemptively calling the species extinct right this moment. But a group of scientists aren’t ready to throw up the white flag just yet. Calling upon the help of preserved sperm samples from male Northern white rhinos before their deaths, these scientists hope to use In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to develop their own population of Northern white rhinos with surrogate mothers from another white rhino subspecies.
It sounds like something right out of science fiction, but the process is indeed very real, albeit experimental. The scientists started small, collecting eggs from one of the remaining females and fertilizing them with sperm from their cache. Now, it seems they’ve successfully developed embryos, and it’s only a matter of finding an ideal surrogate mother.
There’s absolutely no room for error, which is a lot of pressure for a team that has never performed anything like this before. On the other hand, should everything go according to plan, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to anticipate the revival of the Northern white rhino population. Eventually, it would become nothing more than a matter of multiplication.
It should be interesting to see if all this hard work results in any fruitful rewards.