Although the term has come to develop highly negative connotations, extinction is a natural occurrence. In fact, species go extinct all the time. However, humans aren’t even able to record or witness these extinctions because we aren’t even aware of the species in the first place. It’s a natural part of every species’ life cycle to eventually go extinct. However, due to human interference, today species are going extinct at highly alarming rates. This means that these extinctions are not responding to natural environmental factors but rather to interference in the ecosystems by human activity. That is why cases such as the imminent northern white rhino extinction are so heartbreaking. Not only are we familiar with the species in question, but their demise is actually our species’ fault.
White Rhino Extinction: De-Extinction
Is it possible to bring back a species from extinction? Up until a few decades ago, the answer was a hard no. However, advances in all sorts of genetic and breeding technology have made such an idea possible. This doesn’t mean that we should rely on de-extinction as a way to solve the current threat of mass extinction posed by human activity. However, it can be used as a tool to bring back recently-extinct species, as well as some that are long-gone but of whom we still conserve sufficient genetic information. The de-extinction process is highly expensive and difficult, which is why it should not be considered as the first plan of action in order to conserve species that are on the verge of extinction. It should only be implemented when there is nothing else to be done about the issue.
De-Extinction Through Cloning
The most commonly talked about method for proposed de-extinction is cloning. In cases in which there is a preserved cell from the extinct species, its genetic information can be extracted and placed in a host cell of the creature’s nearest living relative. Cloning has been used in a variety of different species, such as sheep, dogs, pigs, and horses, but it has only been successful on a few occasions as far as extinct species go. Due to the need of preserved genetic material and a close taxonomic relative, this is most effective when the extinction has been more recent.
Stopping Rhino Extinction Through IVF
Currently, there are only two living northern white rhinos in the world. The two female rhinos are both infertile, which has made attempts at saving the species through artificial insemination unsuccessful. However, it could still be possible to save the species through in-vitro fertilization. The process consists of retrieving their eggs and using sperm samples in order to produce male and female pure-bred northern white rhino calves through reproductive technology. If this process sounds complicated, that’s because it is. It is also very expensive, but it might be the last chance we have to viably save the species from total extinction. Once there are no more living members of the species, de-extinction becomes a lot harder. For the first time in history, the necessary technology exists to reverse biological extinction using artificial insemination and in vitro gestation. Time is of the essence, so if you are interested in helping reverse the extinction of the northern white rhino, use our website to donate what you can and contribute to the cause.