Najin, 32, the eldest of the two remaining northern white rhino females was withdrawn from the Biorescue consortium’s assisted reproduction program. The choice leaves the ambitious plan with only one female capable of providing eggs, Najin’s daughter, Fatu.

Najin, one of the last two remaining northern white rhino female specimens / Biorescue

Najin, one of the last two female northern white rhinos has been withdrawn from the assisted reproduction program to help save the species from extinction. This was announced by the international consortium of scientists and conservationists of the Biorescue consortium, led by researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, in Germany, which also includes the University of Padua. The researchers decided to retire the eldest of the two female northern white rhinos, 32-year-old Najin, as an egg donor, leaving the ambitious program with only one female capable of providing egg cells, Najin’s daughter, Fatu.

The decision to stop the collection of Najin’s oocytes was made under the guidance of the Laboratory of Ethics for Veterinary Medicine, Conservation and Animal Welfare of the University of Padua, also considering old age and signs of illness shown by the specimen. Recent ultrasound examinations, the consortium explains, revealed multiple small, benign tumors in Najin’s cervix and uterus, as well as a 25-centimeter cyst in the left ovary.

These conditions could explain why egg harvesting was not as successful with Najin as with Fatu – said the chief veterinarian of Leibniz-IZW, Dr. Frank Göritz, and the chief veterinarian of Ol Pejeta, Dr. Stephen Ngulu -. This is why we have come to the conclusion that the most valuable role for Najin is to be an ambassador for the conservation of her species and ensure that she can pass on her knowledge and social behavior to offspring in the near future.”.

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The females Najin and Fatu, hosted at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya, they are the only white rhinos in the north remained in the world and, in an attempt to avoid extinction, the consortium has been collecting oocytes since 2019, artificially fertilizing them using the frozen sperm of deceased males to obtain viable embryos to be transferred to surrogate mothers (probably southern white rhinos) to obtain offspring of northern white rhino. So far, the team has created 12 northern white rhino embryos from Fatu’s oocytes and hopes to have the first specimen in three years and a larger offspring in the next two decades.

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