Hope for the Northern White Rhinos

Source: International Rhino Foundation

By Lily Withiam-Leitch

Northern White Rhinos are one of the two subspecies of white rhinos, the other being the Southern White Rhino. The name is actually misleading; these rhinos are actually gray in color. White rhinos are the third largest African land animal, weighing up to as much as 2,400 kilograms.

Currently, there are only 2 Northern White Rhinos left in the world. Poachers who illegally hunt for their horns have been the main cause of their decline. Located in Kenya, the two females, Najin and Fatu are protected in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The last male, Sudan, had passed away March 19th, 2018. Because there are no remaining males, it’s almost impossible for there to ever be a purebred Northern White Rhino again. However, scientists had looked into using skin cells from Najin, Fatu, and previous males to create immature egg cells. So far, 12 usable embryos have been created. There have also been a couple of rhino births from artificial insemination.

Although it’s possible, it’d be extremely difficult to save this species. It is an incredibly complex process to create this artificial insemination; fewer than ten rhino births have resulted from this. Over the future years, scientists and everyone working to save the Northern White Rhinos will have to keep a close look to keep this species alive. Although these efforts may not be able to save this species, many other rhino species are also severely endangered. These technological advancements could be the key to preventing any others from going extinct.