The recent death of a northern white rhino in Dvůr Králové Zoo, Czech Republic has left just four of this subspecies in existence – three females and one male. None are capable of natural reproduction, and the extinction of the northern white rhino is a very real and very imminent probability – unless a technique for rhino IVF and embryo transfer can be funded, developed, tested and implemented in time.
Three of the last northern white rhino (including the last male northern white in existence) reside in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, who are partnering with Dvůr Králové Zoo and other organisations to try and develop a way to safely remove egg cells from remaining females, fertilize these with semen collected from northern white males, and use a female southern white rhino as a surrogate. This has never been done before, and does not come without risks. What’s more, if the remaining females die before this method has been developed, one of the last chances to save the northern white rhinos will vanish.
The estimated cost of IVF and embryo transfer – from the development of the method, to trials and implantation is estimated at approximately $800,000 (Sh82 million). Yet this is the only hope for preserving an entire subspecies.
Ol Pejeta and Dvůr Králové Zoo have launched a GoFundMe campaign entitled ‘Make a Rhino’ to try and raise the money needed to save the northern white rhino before it’s too late. All funds raised on the online platform go directly to the IVF initiative, and they are appealing to supporters around the globe to donate to the cause.
To support this cause, see link: www.gofundme.com/makearhino