Najin, a 32-year-old northern white rhino – who along with his daughter Fatu is one of only two left in the world – will no longer be fished for eggs for “ethical” reasons, according to the Le BioRescue consortium announced Thursday in a statement.
Rhinos are targeted by poachers, fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments. As a result, the northern white rhino subspecies is on the brink of extinction.
Najin, who was born in a safari park in the Czech Republic in 1989, was transferred to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2009 as part of a breeding program to revive the population.
She was moved there with her daughter, Fatu, as well as the world’s last two male northern white rhinos, who died in 2014 and 2018.
However, neither Najin nor Fatu were able to carry a pregnancy to term.
The researchers, led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, said in the press release that they had made the “exceptionally difficult” decision to undertake a “comprehensive ethical risk assessment. “.
»Oocyte [ovary cell] Najin’s collections yielded few eggs and none of them could be successfully fertilized into an embryo.
“Weighing this result against the potential risks, it is the most responsible decision to stop any further intervention on Najin and to stop using her as an egg donor,” they said in the press release.
“She will remain part of the program, for example providing tissue samples for stem cell approaches, which can be performed with minimal invasion.
The researchers added that they had found several small benign tumors on her reproductive organs.
Najin’s retirement from egg collections leaves only one northern white rhino alive in the breeding program – his daughter, Fatu, who is over ten years his junior.