Sunday, March 04, 2007

Northern White Rhinos: A Last Ditch Hope?

Robin McKie, science editor for The Observer, reports that the world's most endangered large mammal may yet be saved from extinction by human fertility methods. He reports on the work being carried out via artificial insemination, in vitro fertilisation and sex-selection by Robert Hermes, a zoologist at Berlin's Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. Robert works closely Thomas Hildebrandt and Frank Goritz, and their work resulted in the birth of a baby to Lulu in Budapest earlier this year.
If this team, working with other groups in several European zoos, succeed, they will have pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats in wildlife conservation. Most experts assume the northern white is doomed and will join the dodo, passenger pigeon, quagga and Tasmanian wolf as victims of the predations of modern humans.

'The northern white is now in a desperate situation,' said Hermes. 'It is in the tightest possible population bottleneck from which it may bounce back or simply die out. I still believe there is hope, however.'
Full story at The Observer online.

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