BREAKING NEWS Minnesota health officials announce 5th Coronavirus-related death as positive tests hit 441 Full Story
SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory View Alerts
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Glimmer of hope in race to save nearly extinct northern white rhino

A new study may hold the key to saving the northern white rhino's rapid descent into extinction.The w...

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 11:55 AM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 11:55 AM

A new study may hold the key to saving the northern white rhino's rapid descent into extinction.

The world's last male northern white rhino died in March, bringing the subspecies dangerously closer to extinction with only two female members left worldwide and living at the Ole Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.



Continents and regions

Destinations and attractions

Endangered and threatened species

Environment and natural resources

Environmental conservation

Environmental law

Environmental regulation and policy

Fertility and infertility


Health and medical

Law and legal system

Life forms


Medical fields and specialties

Middle East and North Africa

Northern Africa

Points of interest

Reproductive technology


Sexual and reproductive health



Wildlife conservation

Zoos and aquariums


Genes and chromosomes

Genetic biochemistry


With the death of the male rhino, scientists have scrambled to find ways to save the subspecies. Now a new DNA study shows northern white rhinos have mated and exchanged genes with the southern white rhinos in the past, and this would be a viable option if other methods of using pure northern white rhino genetic material fail, said Michael Bruford of Cardiff University and co-author of the study.

The study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has revealed that the two subspecies are closer than previously thought, Bruford said.

In vitro experiments conducted in the lab between northern white sperm and southern white egg showed promising results, he said.

"They are different but have had the ability to exchange genes in the past," Bruford said. "This happened during the ice ages when African grasslands expanded, bringing the two populations into contact."

He said the subspecies mixed as recently as 15,000 years ago.

If reproductive technologies involving only northern white rhino genes fail, Bruford said, scientists could consider using southern white females for in vitro fertilization. He said a hybrid female rhino lived in a zoo in the Czech Republic and survived for 32 years.

The southern white rhinos are not as endangered -- Ol Pejeta has 32 -- and while the offspring would not be 100% northern white rhino, it would be better than nothing, experts said.

Researchers saved some of the male rhino's genetic material in the hopes of using it for artificial insemination, Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta, has previously said.

Scientists have used IVF techniques to develop hybrid rhino embryos -- "test-tube rhinos."

A team was also able to extract stem cell lines from southern white rhino embryos, which could be used to make reproductive cells such as eggs and sperm to create embryos.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy acquired northern white rhinos -- two males and two females -- in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Both male northern white rhinos died, leaving the fate of the subspecies on the female rhinos.

Article Comments

Mason City
46° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 42°
Albert Lea
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
Broken Clouds
46° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 55°
42° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 35°
Severe weather Saturday before the sun comes out
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video


Sean Weather 3/28


Weekend setup for rain, storms, and snow


Seniors give their best quarantine advice


Coronavirus claims Alden coffee shop


How Corona Impacts Weather Forecasts


Man Missing after boat accident


Minnesota girl's basketball all-star series highlights athletes without games


Chris' PM Weather Forecast 3/27


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Serves Rural Areas


Risk of Off-Label Medications For Covid-19

Community Events