Scientists Announce Successful Embryo Transfer in White Rhino, Paving Way for Conservation Efforts

January 25, 2024

We achieved together something which was not believed to be possible.

Head of Department of Reproduction Management at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Thomas Hildebrandt talking to reporters as scientists announced they completed the first ever successful transfer of an embryo in a subspecies of white rhinoceros.

Why It Matters: The white rhinoceros has two subspecies – northern and southern – though only two female rhinos of the northern species remain after the last male died in 2018. To help prevent extinction of the northern subspecies, scientists in Berlin have worked on a proof of concept with a southern white rhino, successfully completing an IVF pregnancy in the subspecies in Kenya. On Wednesday, they announced the embryo transfer led to a successful pregnancy, which Hildebrandt describes as “a milestone to allow us to produce northern white rhino calves in the next two, two and a half years.”

Worth Noting: Northern rhinos are native to Africa, with the two remaining female rhinos living in Kenya. Southern rhinos, once bordering on extinction with a population of less than 20, have largely recovered due to conservation efforts and have a population of about 16,000.

Read More:

World’s first white rhino IVF pregnancy may offer way to save subspecies (Reuters)

A deeper dive into the northern white rhino species (Fauna & Flora)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas