Make a Rhino, Save a Species
We want to raise £0.5m ($0.8m) to develop the IVF techniques needed for a new generation of northern white rhino to be born.
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On Monday, July 27th Nabiré, a female northern white rhino at Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic passed away. With the sad and recent deaths of Suni and Angalifu since the end of 2014, there are now just three northern white rhino left in the world. It could be the end of a species.
Credit: Khalil Baalbaki/ZOO Dvur Kralove
Sudan (named after his birth-place but living in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya) is the last northern white male in existence, and at 42 is in advanced old age for a rhino. The chances of him successfully mating are close to zero.
Credit: Ian Aitken
The only hope now is to develop assisted methods of reproduction to allow new northern white rhino calves to be born. Given the age and reproductive health issues that affect the remaining females, we are exploring in vitro fertilization and an embryo transfer. We aim to combine eggs from the remaining females with stored northern white sperm to create embryos that can be carried by surrogate southern white females.
This has never been successfully carried out with rhinos before. It will be costly – we are working towards £0.5m (approx. $0.8m). It could take 12-36 months of research to develop the new techniques required. There are no guarantees of success. But if we are successful, we will save a species.
You might well ask: "Why bother?" or "Most species have gone extinct over time, what's the problem?" or "Couldn't this money be better spent on other threatened species, including black rhino?"
We wish we could give you the ultimate answer but beyond sheer, inspirational beauty, the maintenance of global biodiversity and the chance to see wild rhinos roaming free in central Africa at some stage in the future, we can’t.
Credit: Erico Hiller
However, when you consider the value of this magnificent species please consider:
£0.5m (approx. $0.8m) to save a species for now, for your children and for your children’s children…
Versus the same amount to buy…
16 m2 of real estate in Monaco (172 square foot), or
62,500 space hoppers, or
One Lamborghini, or
43 Methuselah bottles of 1990 Cristal Brut Millennium cuvée , or
5 and a bit, Supercharged Range Rover SVR Sports, or
Half of an Xten, Pininfarina designed office chair
Please see foot of this page for links to sources.
Feel free to share in your comments any more crazy comparisons as to how £0.5m ($0.8m) could be spent compared to saving a species.
Please contribute and help us make a new baby northern white rhino. Any and all funds raised here will go directly to the northern white rhino programme.
For more information please contact Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, or Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, by simply posting a message to this Go Fund Me page.
There is no guarantee of success. We could spend this money and fail. But we hope that you will agree that it is worth trying.
Even if we do succeed it could take us much, much longer than the time frames we are hoping for as outlined above.
We estimate that we need to raise £0.5m (approx. $0.8m) before fees to make this work but we could be wrong – we could need more and would continue fundraising.
Should any funds remain after success or failure, then the committee set up to safeguard the northern white future will reinvest those monies into protecting the world’s remaining rhino species.
The northern white rhino programme is administered by a committee comprised of the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Dvur Kralove Zoo and the Ministry of Environment in the Czech Republic, and Back to Africa with support from Fauna and Flora International and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The leading scientific partner for the project is the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany.
The northern white rhino is technically recognised as a subspecies by IUCN AfRSG. For simplicity we have chosen to communicate this campaign under the banner of 'Save a Species' in recognition that northern white rhino genetics are uniquely adapted to their habitats and are subsequently irreplaceable and we believe invaluable.
This campaign has been set up by Robert Breare and Jan Stejskal. Robert is Chief Operating Officer of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to three of the last four northern white rhino. Jan is Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, owner of all four remaining northern white rhinos. Their identity can be confirmed by checking out LinkedIn here and here or staff pages on OPC or DK Zoo website . GoFundMe also runs extensive verification checks.
Banner image: Credit Jan Stejskal
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** Reproduction and stem cell researchers meet in Vienna to develop a rescue plan for the northern white rhino **
International scientists met in Austria in early December 2015 for a conference on Conservation by Cellular Technologies. The last three northern white rhinos in the world, who live on Ol Pejeta, are completely incapable of natural reproduction. Experts have concluded that the subspecies can only be saved by using cellular techniques. The conference was supported by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin (IZW), San Diego Zoo Global (USA), Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Austria) and ZOO Dvůr Králové (Czech Republic).
One of the participants in the meeting, the Japanese stem cell scientist Katsuhiko Hayashi (Kyushu University), has already grown mice out of simple skin cells. The plan devised in Vienna is to use natural gametes from the remaining three rhinos, as well as samples collected from dead individuals, and multiply them. Scientists will also use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are taken from somatic cells, for example in the skin. They hope that as research continues to progress, it might be possible to specifically mature the iPS cells into neurons, heart muscle cells or even gametes. In-vitro fertilised gametes can then be introduced into surrogate mothers and a fertile northern white rhinos will be produced.
The process will require the latest findings in stem cell research to be adjusted and applied to rhinos, and will be the first use of the technology in wildlife conservation. DNA of a dozen northern white rhinos has been preserved in genetic banks in Berlin and San Diego, and will be used in this project. The first studies have already begun, and the complete rescue and research plan will be published as a status report next year.
Our GoFundMe campaign aims to raise funds to assist in the research necessary to save the species. Please continue to support this campaign by spreading the word and sharing with your loved ones.
As some of you might already be aware, Nola, a female northern white rhino in San Diego Zoo, died aged 41 on Sunday 22nd November. This leaves just three remaining on the planet; all of them live in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya.
The future of this subspecies now lies in the development of in vitro fertilisation techniques and stem cell technology, costly and complicated procedures that have never before been attempted in rhinos.
A statement from San Diego Zoo said “Nola, who lived here since 1989, was under veterinary care for a bacterial infection, as well as age-related health issues. In the last 24 hours, Nola’s condition worsened and we made the difficult decision to euthanize her. We’re absolutely devastated by this loss, but resolved to fight even harder to end extinction.”
Unless a technique for rhino IVF or stem cell technology can be funded, developed, tested and implemented, the northern white rhino will become extinct. Team of experts led by IZW Berlin has been cooperating with Dvůr Králové and Ol Pejeta on this already.
Our GoFundMe campaign aims to raise funds to assist in the research necessary to save the species.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is appealing to people all over the world to help. “We wouldn’t be asking people to donate if we didn’t truly believe that there was one last ray of hope for saving the northern white rhino” says Ol Pejeta CEO, Richard Vigne. “It is by no means straightforward, but saving a subspecies from extinction in an age where science is capable of so many extraordinary things - I believe it can be done. All we need is for citizens around the world to club together to save the northern white rhino for future generations”.
We'd like to say a huge thank you to every single person who has donated or shared our link. Thanks to your generosity, we have raised £5,600 since we started the fundraiser.
For us, saving the northern white rhinos isn't just about species conservation, it's about safeguarding wild species for future generations. We, therefore, remain committed to saving this species no matter how long it takes.
Please help us in this endeavour by spreading the word and sharing the link as widely as you can. http://www.gofundme.com/makearhino
Hi Tim. Yes, the white rhinos that you see near Nyeri are southern white rhino. This campaign is about northern white rhino of which there are only four remaining in the world (three on Ol Pejeta and one in the US). These sub-species are very similar but the northern white rhino has evolved to be specially adapted to central Africa.
Please help me understand. Is there a difference in the wide rhino other wise known as the white rhino and a northern white rhino. Because about 10 minutes from me here in Nyeri you can see white rhinos all day long.