Kenya took a gigantic step in ensuring the survival of the world's last northern white rhino, following a successful artificial insemination procedure carried out on Sunday.
"After the successful harvest of 10 eggs from the world’s last two northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, 7 eggs (4 from Fatu and 3 from Najin) were on August 25th, successfully matured and artificially inseminated with frozen sperm from northern white rhino bulls, Suni and Saut," the Ol Pejeta Conservancy tweeted.
The accomplishment marks a crucial step in the ambitious project to stop the northern white rhino from fading into extinction.
Animal reproduction expert Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, announced that they were hopeful that once the embryos developed, they would be transferred to a surrogate mother from the other subspecies of white rhinoceros.
Unfortunately, despite providing viable eggs, Kenya's last two northern white rhinos - Najin and Fatu, currently residing at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Laikipia County, are believed to have health issues that would hinder them from carrying a pregnancy.
The two rhinos are said to be recovering smoothly, following the harvesting procedure, during which Najin and Fatu were placed under general anaesthetic.
The world’s last male northern white rhinoceros, a 45-year-old named Sudan, died last year in Kenya, leaving only the two surviving female members of the species.
Sudan was the last of his kind to be born in the wild, in the country he was named after.
Kenya was home to over 20,000 rhinos in the 1970s, but years of rampant poaching, reduced the number to an estimated 650 now, almost all of which are black rhinos.
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