There are only two female northern white rhinos left on the planet – the clearest example of how bad things have gone wrong for the natural world.
Scientists plan to implant both fertilized eggs this year – one last chance to bring these majestic creatures back from the brink of extinction.
One million out of eight million species are currently threatened with extinction from poaching, hunting, and habitat destruction.
Thanks to the first “biobank” in Europe, in which the cells of endangered animals are stored indefinitely, their future has received an enormous boost.
Known as nature’s SAFE, cells from animals such as the Amur leopard, black rhinoceros and mountain grouse frog are stored in cryogenic tanks in the UK.
In collaboration with Chester Zoo, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and the University of Oxford, the project has already collected cells from 17 species.
The process works by collecting cell tissue samples when an animal dies or has an operation that are frozen at -196 ° C.
When thawing, the cells “wake up” and regenerate so that they can be used for artificial reproduction.
The team is now racing against the clock to protect tens of thousands of cells from threatened animals such as the eastern gorilla, sea otter and the Asian black bear.
The charity’s co-founder, Tullis Matson, heads Stallion AI Services, which has been recognized for saving one of the UK’s rarest horse breeds through an innovative semen sexing process.
“If we lose biodiversity, we lose practically everything on this planet, including ourselves. It’s that serious,” he said.
“We need to have a way to keep these animals from disappearing. It’s just a tick in the toolbox,” he added.