Kenya's wildlife firm seeks $9 million to save northern white rhino
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy CEO Richard Vigne told a media briefing in Nairobi that the funds will be used towards ongoing research into assisted reproductive techniques for the rhinos.
"Once perfected, the new technology in in-vitro fertilization will aid to achieve successful pregnancies to gradually build up a viable herd of northern white rhinos," Vigne said.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to the three remaining northern white rhinos in the world, one male and two female rhinos.
The 360 square kilometers conservancy in northern Kenya is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Vigne said that remaining northern white rhinos are too old to breed and therefore are infertile.
"So we need to use artificial techniques, the exact way that is used in infertile human couples in order to recover the white rhino species," he added.
International zoological experts in European Zoos are currently developing a technique that involves implanting fertilized eggs into surrogate white rhino females.
The conservationist hopes to begin breeding the endangered rhinos so that they are eventually introduced into their natural habitats in Central Africa.
Vigne said that the northern white rhinos have been driven to extinction by poachers due to demand for rhino horns in the Far East. Kenya has around 690 black rhinos and 407 southern white rhinos. ■