Friday, December 11, 2009

Northern White Rhinos Returning to Africa?

Amid the belief that they are now extinct in the wild, the only Northern White Rhinos remaining are in zoos in the Czech Republic and San Diego. Now scientists are divided on whether to move forward with a plan to transfer four rhinos from the Czech Republic zoo to a wildlife reserve in Kenya. The proposal is detailed in full at the International Rhino Foundation site.
The IRF, SRI, and most parties agree:

* Wild populations of NWR are likely extinct in DRC and the Sudan
* The remaining eight individuals in captivity are not reproductively ideal
* Steps to preserve genetic material from the captive population are needed immediately
* Crossing NWR with SWR is the only remaining option

However, the IRF and SRI do not endorse the concept that the only way to succeed with this effort is to move the remaining animals to Africa.

Additional coverage at and TimesOfTheInternet. Having recently watched the related TV series episode this was interesting timing.
The hope of the NWR Conservation Project is that relocating the rhinos to a natural environment will stimulate breeding - and preserve critical genetic material by allowing NWR to breed with the far more numerous Southern white rhino. In addition, AI options are being explored.
Proponents acknowledge that while there is no way to predict whether or not moving the rhinos to Africa will result in successful breeding, they also point out that captive southern white rhinos do not have a strong record of reproduction in captivity - and require “wild supplements” from time to time.

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