A Southern White Rhino is Pregnant, Bringing Hope To Save Her Cousins From Extinction

A Southern White Rhino was successfully impregnated through artificial in insemination at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which gives hope in saving her cousins, the Northern White Rhino,  from the brink of extinction.

Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, died at his home in Kenya after suffering from poor health for months. The last remaining male of the subspecies was euthanized in March which only leaves two of his subspecies alive. With only two of them remaining, and both of them are female and not capable of bearing a baby, the Northern White Rhino has reached the brink of extinction.

Regardless of international laws banning the market to sell their horns, thousands of rhinos are slaughtered, three each day. Rhino poaching activities increased each day for the past decade, resulting in the world’s most recognizable animals’ population to drop down.

“It’s clear that our greed has a major impact on species, and to actually witness right in front of our eyes this extinction happening is an incredible phenomenon, particularly as we know how it has come about,” Paul Masela, wildlife manager at Kenya Wildlife Services, told The Independent.

“Unfortunately, what has happened to the northern whites is a symbol of what is happening to thousands of other species across the planet as a result of human exploitation,” Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s CEO Richard Vigne told The Independent.

The alarming news caused researchers and scientists to work on artificial reproduction techniques to save the subspecies from the brink of extinction. San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy has plans “to bring them (Northern White Rhinos) back using cutting-edge science and decades of animal care expertise.”

Victoria is the first to become impregnated out of the six Southern White Rhinos at the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy who are trying to be surrogate mothers to Northern White Rhinos. The act is considered to be a historic event and a “critical step” to save the Northern White Rhinos. Victoria is two months pregnant and Rhino pregnancies last 16-18 months.

A Southern White Rhino is Pregnant, Bringing Hope To Save Her Cousins From Extinction
An ultrasound copy of Victoria taken by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy.

“The confirmation of this pregnancy through artificial insemination represents a historical event for our organization but also a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino,” said Barbara Durrant, director of Reproductive Sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

The zoo officials announced that the first Southern White Rhino calf born could arrive in summer 2019 if Victoria can carry the calf for 16-18 months long.

The primary goal is to make a herd of five to fifteen Northern White Rhinos that would be returned to their natural habitat in Africa.

“This has only been done in one species before, and that was a mouse. It’s a big step from a mouse to a rhino. But it is possible,” Durrant announced.