Can science save a species on the edge of extinction?
In a historical undertaking, a consortium of the world’s leading experts from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Avantea, Safari Park Dvur Kralove and Kenya Wildlife Service performed the first ever ovum pick up on Fatu and Najin, the last living northern white rhino on the planet at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in northern Kenya. This procedure, never before performed on any northern white rhinos, could mark that instant when these creatures were brought back from certain extinction. The precious ova were rushed to Italy where they were matured and fertilized with frozen northern white rhino sperm to become embryos which could then be transferred into the southern white rhinos who could gestate the embryos. If this new technology is successful, it could bring this critically endangered species BACK FROM EXTINCTION.
This has been a ten year journey, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes sublime as I followed the last northern white rhinos alive on the planet from Safari Park Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic to Kenya’s Ol Pejeta back in 2009. Witnessing what was believed to be end of the species with the death of Sudan, the very last male northern white rhino, last year broke my heart into a million pieces. Now, I share the news that these incredible human beings are on the cusp of saving the species. I have hope that we are waking up and understanding our responsibility to protect this planet.