Sunday, 23 July 2017

Horns of a Dilemma?


There has been a lot of publicity about the plan to attempt breed endangered Northern white rhinoceros by using sperm from a male in a Czech Republic zoo and eggs extracted from the closely-related Southern white rhinoceros at Longleat (the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/49934/title/IVF-to-Revive-Endangered-White-Rhino-Population). The gametes would be mixed in Italy, allowed to divide to the blastula stage, before being possibly implanted in the womb of a hormonally-primed female Southern white rhinoceros at Longleat. The argument is that the hybrid (between the sub-species) result of in vitro fertilisation would conserve 50% of the genes of the Northern line. I am not sure that this is an entirely useful process as zoos have very limited carrying capacity for large animals and you might well subsequently have to accommodate populations of northern, southern and hybrids. The rhinoceros is mainly endangered by a combination of habitat loss and poaching for their horns. Money might be better spent on preserving and protecting lands where they currently live. It's sad to say but the Northern white rhinoceros is essentially in the process of becoming extinct.

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Pat Bateson

I have just noted the obituary of Sir Patrick Bateson 1938-2017 ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/14/sir-patrick-bateson-ob...