Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

Discovery offers hope for northern white rhino
There are currently only two northern white rhinos remaining in the world.
Study shows proof of contact between northern and southern populations

The northern white rhino could be saved from extinction by using the genes of its less-threatened southern cousin, according to new research.

The discovery was made by researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Venda, South Africa, following a genetic analysis of 232 rhino samples.

Researchers found that despite the northern and southern populations splitting around one million years ago, they have occasionally shared genes during cold and arid periods - as recently as 14,000 years ago when African grasslands expanded.  

“By looking at the white rhino’s population history we’ve been able to establish that there was contact between northern and southern rhino populations throughout history,” said Dr Isa-Rita Russo from Cardiff University.

“This is an exciting find! Genetic proof of contact between the populations suggests it may be possible to successfully rescue the northern white rhinoceros using southern white rhinoceros genes to create embryos, although further data would need to be collected to confirm this.”

There are currently only two northern white rhinos remaining in the world - females Fatu and Najin reside in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The last remaining male, Sudan, died in March 2018, leaving the species teetering on the brink of extinction.

The southern population declined to its lowest number around the turn of the nineteenth century but has since recovered to become the world’s most numerous rhino. They can be found mostly in South Africa, with smaller populations also in Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Professor Yoshan Moodley, University of Venda, said: “It appears that the white rhinoceros is no stranger to low genetic diversity, as our results show that the species was subjected to several climatically and anthropogenically driven population declines, which would have reduced and compressed genetic diversity in the past.

“This is one of the few large animals to survive the last ice age, and it seems that the additional human pressure on an already genetically compromised species has pushed the white rhinoceros further along the road to extinction.”


Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Nominations open for Blue Cross Medal 2019

News Story 1
 Animal lovers are being urged to nominate their pet heroes for the Blue Cross Medal 2019.

Celebrating inspirational pets for almost 80 years, the Award is open to pets that have done something brave, life-changing partnerships, assistance animals and serving or working animals.

To find out more about the awards and to nominate a pet, visit The closing date for entries is 15 February 2019.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Northampton graduate wins industry award

A graphic communications graduate from the University of Northampton has won an industry award for her campaign to persuade people to choose a rescue dog over a puppy.

Taylar Wong received a YCN Student Award for her concept, which likened a rescue dogs stay at the Dogs Trust to a time at University. Injecting some fun into the adoption process, Taylor produced images of cute dogs wearing mortarboards for use on social media and physical advertising.