Stem-Cell Plan: Bring Back Rhino Species On The Brink Of Extinction

An ambitious new project can change the fate of rhinos. An experiment, which will transform rhino tissues into egg cells and sperm, may soon be carried out to save the northern white rhinoceros in Kenya as per reports. Currently, there are only three living members of the species in the world.

Thousands of northern white rhinoceros once inhabited the central African savannahs, however at the moment there are only three rhinos of this subspecies left, all of which live in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy but are owned by the Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czech Republic. The three rhinos called Fatu, Sudan and Najin, which are guarded round the clock, cannot breed naturally owing to a variety of reasons.

According to a report published in Nature journal, scientists have suggested an ambitious plan that will collect cells from living rhinos and frozen storage and transform them into egg cells and sperms, to save the northern white rhino from the fate of extinction. Subsequently in vitro fertilization (IVF) will be used to create embryos and revive the nearly extinct species.

Researchers from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin and San Diego Zoo Global (SDZGlobal) in California have already begun work on the project. The only worry that scientists proclaim to have at the moment is that a viable rhino embryo using in vitro fertilization has never been made, let alone been implanted into a surrogate. According to the report, the scientists have suggested that the study model could also be used in the future to rescue and resurrect other animals that are on the brink of extinction or are already extinct, if the initial test proves to be successful.

Critics are worried that the process may take away attention from broader conservation efforts.  “This says we can let species go to the very brink of extinction and modern technology can bring them back,” said conservation biologist Stuart Pimm, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “There is a very substantial moral hazard in that,” Pimm concluded.

Post Credited From Science World Report


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