In Summary
  • The group which included conservationists collected the mature eggs from Najin and Fatu, two females living at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on August 22.

  • The sperms were collected from two different northern white rhino bulls- Suni and Saut.

A group of scientists in Italy have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos in a major step towards saving the species from extinction.

The creation of the embryos was achieved at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy in an In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) process, that involved the fertilisation of collected eggs by sperm in a lab.

IVF

The group which included conservationists collected the mature eggs from Najin and Fatu, the two females living at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on August 22. The sperms were collected from two different northern white rhino bulls- Suni and Saut.

In a statement, the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) said that the creation of the embryos was made possible by a team led by Prof. Cesare Galli.

The agency quoted Dr Galli saying that they had brought ten oocytes back from Kenya, five from each female.

“After incubation seven matured and were suitable for fertilisation (four from Fatu and three from Najin)”, says Galli.

The scientist said that Fatu’s eggs were injected with Suni’s sperm while Najin’s eggs were injected with Saut’s sperm using a procedure called ICSI (Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection).

Scientists in Italy have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos. PHOTO | COURTESY

However, Saut’s semen was of really poor quality and the scientists had to draw additional samples to find viable sperms for ICSI.

“After ten days of incubation, two of Fatu’s eggs developed into viable embryos that were cryopreserved for future transfer. Najin’s eggs did not make it to a viable embryo despite the fact that one egg initiated segmentation,” the prof said.

Scientists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos. PHOTO | COURTESY

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