05 Feb 2024

Why 2024 is the Year to Visit the Two Most Precious Rhinos in the World

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya is home to the last two northern white rhinos on Earth – but the world's first IVF rhino pregnancy may offer hope for the near extinct subspecies.

A century ago, more than half a million rhinos roamed the grasslands of Africa and Asia. Today, these much-loved herbivores, with their armoured hides, disgruntled expressions and prehistoric-looking horns, have become an emblem for our wildlife crisis: decimated by poaching and habitat loss, their numbers have dwindled by a staggering 95% to around just 27,000 worldwide.

Almost all of them now live in national parks and reserves like Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where they can be protected from the poachers that target them for their horns, which are highly prized in Asian medicine.

One subspecies, the northern white rhino, is already functionally extinct: there are only two left, both living under 24-hour armed guard here at Ol Pejeta.

But this week the scientists working with them announced a remarkable step forward in the fight to save these magnificent animals. In a major breakthrough, they used IVF to impregnate a female southern white rhino, a close relative of the northern white. It's the first time IVF has ever been successfully used in rhinos, and a huge step forward in the mission to bring the northern white back from the brink.

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Source: BBC Travel