They produced three pure northern white rhino embryos that are now frozen. But the scientists realized they must synchronize implanting embryos with the reproductive cycle of the surrogate mothers. The more embryos they have, the better.
One potential snag is that humans do not know how to detect when the time to insert the embryo is right.
Enter the romantic decoy. A southern white rhino bull will be sterilized, transported to Ol Pejeta and set loose among potential surrogate mothers. His response will signal when they are on heat.
“Thanks to his activities we would be able to identify the right time for inserting the embryo,” team coordinator Jan Stejskal, from Dvůr Králové Zoo, told Reuters.
“We start early in the morning, the first female is immobilised and then the procedure lasts for about two hours,” Stejskal said of the egg harvest.
The eggs are so delicate they must be immediately flown to a laboratory in Europe in an incubator hand-carried by a scientist.
“If you want to start a population of the northern white rhino, one baby is not enough, you need as many babies as possible,” Stejskal said