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Scientists’ new bid to save rhino from extinction

Tourism CS Najib Balala with ‘Sudan’ at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. (Photo: File/Standard)

The last male northern white rhino on earth named Sudan has joined dating app Tinder as part of fundraising efforts by conservationists to save the species from extinction.

Sudan is unable to mate due to old age, it is 43. It lives at Ol Pejeta Conservancy with two females, Najin and Fatu, the only other remaining northern white rhinos.

Sudan, often described as ‘the most eligible bachelor on earth’, is heavily guarded. He has his own team of armed bodyguards protecting him around the clock.

The campaign dubbed; ‘The Most Eligible Bachelor’ is aiming to raise $9 million (almost Sh1 billion) that will see science used to save a species that might get extinct in the next few years.

Five years

Users now have an option to donate when they open Sudan’s profile on Tinder.

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Scientists will employ In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) hoping for pregnancies that will gradually result in a herd of northern white rhinos.

The process will involve the extraction of eggs from female rhinos which will be fertilised using stored semen from male rhino. This will create embryos that will in turn be implanted into surrogate female southern white rhinos.

Conservationists, however, say this may prove a challenge and will require a breeding programme that might stretch up to 15 years.

“Production of a northern white rhino calf from a southern white rhino surrogate is not enough to save the species,” said Ol Pejeta Conservancy Chief Executive Officer Richard Vigne.Research into Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) is currently ongoing in the United States, Germany and Japan and is aimed at producing a herd of 10 northern white rhinos after five years using IVF.

Vigne said this will have to be done multiple times. It will start in Kenya before gradually moving to other countries ‘to spread the risk’.

“We are optimistic given Sudan’s profile will be seen on Tinder in 190 countries and over 40 languages,” said Matt David, from Tinder.

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