After the world's last male northern white rhino died in Kenya two weeks ago, scientists are hoping in vitro fertilization with the last two females can save the subspecies from extinction. The government is also using the rhino’s death as a cautionary tale, taking further steps to preserve other subspecies that still remain. NewsHour Weekend’s Zachary Green reports.
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A little more than two weeks ago, the last male northern white rhino died at an animal conservancy in Kenya, and now only two females of the subspecies remain. Scientists are looking into the possibility of the northern white rhino's survival through in-vitro fertilization. But in the meantime Kenyan officials, are stepping up actions to preserve the remaining rhino population within its borders. NewsHour weekend's Zachary Green has more.
This past Thursday, Kenya's government expanded the rhino sanctuary in the country's Meru National Park, home to 104 black and southern white rhinos. The expansion nearly doubles the sanctuary's size, from 17 to 32 sq. miles.
The Kenya Wildlife Service is also embarking on a two-week $600,000 project to tag and identify 22 rhinos living in the park.
Officials and veterinarians are utilizing helicopters and dart guns to find and tranquilize the rhinos. Once sedated, the vets cut unique notches into the rhino's ears, so that they can be easily identified. Kenya Wildlife Services' lead vet, Francis Gakuya, says this is the most reliable way to monitor the animals in the park.
Ear notches are permanent marks and you can be able to use them for the life of the animal, they are permanent. The horn transmitters which we usually put on animals have a shelf life, they usually take two to three years then the battery goes down. So after that you are not able to track that animal, unless you immobilize it again and put another one, meaning then you have to keep on doing the same.
Using these methods to monitor and track its small rhino population, Kenya hopes it can help save these animals from poachers and, hopefully, from the same fate as their northern white cousins.