Scientists successfully transfer first test tube rhino embryo in hopes of saving the species

Berlin — Scientists in Europe said Tuesday they’ve successfully transferred a test tube rhino embryo back into a female whose eggs were fertilized in vitro, as part of an effort to save another nearly extinct subspecies of the giant horned mammal. The procedure was performed last month on a southern white rhino at Chorzow zoo in Poland, said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

Hildebrandt is part of BioRescue, an international team of scientists and conservationists trying to use IVF to save the rare northern white rhino.

Only two northern white rhinos — both females — are left. The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, died in March 2018. Scientists had preserved frozen sperm samples from several males that they now hope to use to revive the species.

  • Scientists chose to test the IVF transfer on southern white rhinos, a closely related sub-species whose numbers have stabilized in the wild.

“This is the first positive proof that the entire procedure we’ve developed in theory can be successful,” Hildebrandt told reporters in Berlin.

But time is running out.

The BioRescue team is waiting for permission from the Kenyan government to harvest eggs from the last two surviving female northern white rhinos, a mother and daughter called Najin and Fatu.

Najin and Fatu, the only two remaining female northern white rhinos, graze together on March 20, 2018 at the ol-Pejeta conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya.TONY KARUMBA / AFP/GETTY

They are unable to bear offspring themselves, so once the embryos are fertilized in the lab they would be implanted in a southern white rhino surrogate mother.

Kenya’s ambassador in Germany, Joseph Magutt, said his country supports the effort, but didn’t say how long it would take to clear the paperwork.

Hildebrandt cautioned that while ultrasound tests show the embryo transferred at Chorzow zoo has grown, it’s smaller than expected and it remains to be seen whether it will implant in the mother’s uterine lining and result in a pregnancy.

In the meantime, others in the BioRescue team are working on ways to turn preserved skin cells from deceased rhinos into eggs or sperm, a procedure that’s so far only been performed with mice.

Rhinos have long been under pressure from poachers because of their horns, and several sub-species are at risk of extinction. Conservationists say rhinos are important for the survival of many other species because of the role they play in landscaping their native habitat.

Earlier this week, five eastern black rhinos were transported from European zoos to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park to help increase the genetic diversity of the rhino population there.

More broadly, a recent United Nations report warned that a million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades, largely because of human activity.

Botswana brings back trophy hunting

Ross Harvey


31st May 2019

Botswana has now committed to a policy built on myths, while the rest of the world takes stock of the implications ecological crisis.

Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has recently announced that “the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension.”

The country’s new president, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, recently hosted a summit in Kasane for five southern African heads of state whose countries are home to roughly half the world’s remaining elephant population.

The purpose was to forge a common regional strategy for elephant conservation in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). Though the strategy does not explicitly mention hunting, it paves the way for justifying it. The conference itself was in large part an exercise towards that end.

Consumptive use

Since Masisi took over the reins from Ian Khama – a lone voice in the region against trophy hunting and trading ivory – he has been angling to rescind the hunting moratorium.

Critics suggest that this is an attempt to retain the rural vote for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in this year’s elections, as the party has been struggling over the last decade to retain this vital element of the electorate.

Under the banner of ‘consumptive use’ – the idea that an animal will only be conserved if it is hunted or its parts are traded for cash – hunting was defended at the Kasane Conference as a silver bullet for elephant conservation. Speakers and ministers expounded myths that the world – and most African Elephant range states – have largely turned their backs on.

First, Kitso Mokaila, Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, claimed that Botswana’s elephant population has surged to 160,000, from 55,000 in 1991.

This is the subtext for the claim that there are ‘too many elephants.’ But it is false on both fronts.

Carrying capacity

In 1983, Botswana’s elephant population numbered between 70,000 and 75,000. It had certainly not dropped to 55,000 by 1991.

The minister may have done well to consult the latest scientific survey of Northern Botswana, which estimates the population to be roughly 126,114. This is where the majority of elephants reside, so a generous reading of the entire country might be just above 130,000.

This figure is not materially different from the 2014 figure. In other words, the population is stable, not growing.

A second myth: Botswana has exceeded its ‘carrying capacity’ of 54,000 elephants.

This has become an expedient cover under which to justify elephant trophy hunting and even culling. The entire concept of ‘carrying capacity’ is arbitrary. It has no relevance for vast, unfenced wilderness landscapes that adapt and maintain integrity without human intervention.

Ecological benefits 

Ian McDonald has stated that the idea of a carrying capacity of 0.4 elephants per square kilometre derives from an outdated “Hwange Game Reserve management policy that had no scientific basis”.

Scholars Phyllis Lee, Keith Lindsay and Katarzyna Nowak write: “Much of the research community, and many managers, accept that ecosystem structure and function are not about elephant numbers but instead about elephant distribution across a landscape and in relation to plant communities.”

A large number of scientists wrote in Ambio that they did not see “any ecological reason to artificially change the number of elephants in Chobe National Park, either through culling or opening new dry season ranges.”

What matters is not “carrying capacity” but dispersion and concentration. A high density of elephants in one area may prove to result in some ‘undesirable’ vegetation transformation, which is a good reason for keeping migratory corridors open (no fences).

Even where apparent vegetation transformation occurs, however, the ecological benefits of keeping elephants as keystone herbivores should never be underestimated. They deposit seeds up to 90km away from areas in which they feed, regenerating vegetation elsewhere and creating corridors for other animals to use.

Transferring knowledge

A third myth: hunting will solve the “population explosion problem”. Ignoring for a second that the population is stable – and potentially in decline – the truth is that hunting only decimates the big tuskers, reducing genetic diversity.

Trophy hunting is typically rationalised on the grounds that it only eliminates old bulls that are ‘surplus’ to herd requirements. Such small-scale elimination is, however, incapable of controlling an ‘exploding’ population, especially given that Botswana’s annual trophy export quota was only ever between 420 and 800 elephants in the decade preceding the moratorium.

Moreover, there is no such thing as ‘surplus’ bull elephants. Dr Michelle Henley writes that “in the past, bulls over 50 years of age were considered redundant but more recent studies have found that bulls do not reach their sexual prime until they are over 45 years old.”

She also notes that older bulls, because they have protracted musth cycles, “often suppress the musth cycles of younger bulls, thereby maintaining social stability and lowering younger bulls’ aggression towards other species such as rhinoceros.”

They are thus critical for ensuring functional herd sociology, transferring knowledge and disciplining delinquent behaviour among juvenile males.

Arbitrary quotas

Hunting is a fundamentally unsustainable activity, as the incentives are loaded in favour of over-consumption and rule-breaking.

As Botswana veteran Mike Gunn puts it: “Anyone who knows anything about hunting cannot honestly claim that a hunter, tracking a trophy bull with his client, upon finding a young bull carrying large tusks, would try to dissuade his client from shooting it.”

Hunting quotas tend to be arbitrarily determined by the hunters themselves and over-exploited, which violates the ‘maximum sustainable yield’ principle.

Hunting will therefore never solve a population problem, but it does destroy herd sociology and ensures that big tuskers are being shot out.

In this respect, hunters are aiding the poachers – undermining, not supporting, conservation.

Colonial hunting 

Fourth, it’s simply not true that bringing back hunting will solve human and elephant conflict (HEC) and increase benefits to local communities.

The fact is that hunting would only solve HEC if it were able to keep elephants within protected areas and reduce the scarcity of resources, such as water, especially during prolonged drought.

Part of the argument is that hunting generates revenue that accrues directly to local communities and thus disincentivises both poaching and the killing of errant crop-raiders. Ironically, however, hunting is rooted in a colonial anthropology that castigated indigenous people groups as ‘poachers’ and colonialists as ‘hunter-conservationists’.

So, the colonial hunting fraternity established fortress conservation, which displaced and disempowered local communities, but now paints itself as the saviour of conservation and communities.

HEC can be mitigated through bee and chilli solutions, or some combination thereof. Safe migratory corridors can also be established in which human settlement is limited.

Marginal lands

Ultimately, if communities are empowered to earn and receive benefits from elephants being alive, HEC might become negligible. Hunting is not the answer, as the global hunting industry is in decline and is fundamentally unsustainable in open systems.

While the hunting lobby argues that photography is not viable in ‘marginal lands’, Mike Gunn reports that the establishment of Thobolo’s Bush Lodge has falsified this hypothesis.

Hunting makes elephants skittish and herds them, in large numbers, into small safe areas. To the contrary, photography-based lodges present no threat to elephants, provide water during drought, and therefore allow dispersion that results in reasonable population growth and broad-based revenue for communities that would otherwise be reliant on dwindling hunting income.

Instead of allocating previous hunting concessions to photographic, non-consumptive businesses, the Botswana government has been accused of sitting on them despite high levels of interest. Idle land is an invitation to poachers.

The bottom line here is that hunting tends to increase elephant aggression, which exacerbates HEC instead of resolving it.


A fifth myth: the hunting moratorium led to increased poaching.

This argument only works on confirmation bias and sequence ignorance. The logic is that poaching has increased in the wake of hunting’s absence, and the latter must therefore be the cause of the former.

However, poaching only started to increase in 2017, three years after the moratorium was imposed. Poaching is therefore more likely to be a function of scarcity elsewhere – south-western Zambia and south-eastern Angola have experienced high poaching rates recently – and density within. It’s no surprise that poachers have moved south.

Moreover, poaching may well have been minimised if former hunting concessions had been re-allocated timeously to allow photographic expansion.

In the final analysis, Botswana appears intent on moving against science and cogent argument through lifting Khama’s hunting moratorium.

Ecological integrity 

As a physical emblem of President Masisi’s rejection of the prevailing global view, he gifted his fellow heads of state at the Kasane conference with elephant footstools.

UN report released at the same time as the conference showed that human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems. No less than one million species are at risk of extinction, in large part because of our unsustainable ‘consumptive-use’ doctrine.

While the rest of the world takes stock of the implications of having destroyed the planet, Botswana has now committed to a policy built on myths, one that may generate short-term revenue and political gain.

But it comes at the expense of elephants, ecological integrity and future eco-tourism revenue.

This Author 

Ross Harvey studied a B.Com in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he also completed an M.Phil in Public Policy. At the end of 2018, he submitted his PhD in Economics, also at UCT. Ross is currently a freelance independent economist who works with The Conservation Action Trust.

Animal Book Author Flayed By Hunter

A Mike Naye contacted me criticizing my book, God and Animals, after only looking at a couple of free paragraphs shown by Amazon, stating that my misguided ramblings about animals come from emotion. Well yeah! Only human beings have emotions. Savages do not.

He criticized me for having compassion for animals…then, he was reminded that, God created the animals FIRST, then humans as an afterthought. That Scripture verse can be found in my book, God and Animals (AMAZON).

Mr. Naye  slammed me for being a vegetarian even though he challenged me with a question after my defense of animals asking if I ate meat and telling me that he did and wore leather shoes.  He also took great offense at my defense of wolves, now in danger by the lifting of the  wolf protection bill by Congress.

Then he aimed a sucker-punch with this statement: “You may be fighting against what God designed us to be, omnivores, but a lot of us God-fearing people do not.  In addition to eating game animals, I also wear leather shoes.  How about you?” He is a superior “God Fearing” man, by golly.

In my book that Mr. Naye criticizes,  God and Animals-What The Bible says About Heaven and Animals- (AMAZON), he will find that, ‘in the beginning’ both humans and animals were vegetarians.  All relevant Scriptures are in my book to verify what I’ve stated to make solid points and hopefully impressions. Everything I’ve said in my book is backed with Scripture Verses.

The critic was angered at my defense of animals, especially as I noted that Trophy Hunting was “sport killing”, in which those particular hunters gain perverted pleasure in doing. How can anyone take pleasure in causing a living creature to suffer?   He then made a point of telling me that, “wolves, by the way, do not just kill to eat but frequently participate in “sport killing”, i.e., just killing for the fun of it.”  This man was not trying to establish dialogue with me, he just wanted to fight.

First of all, animals have the same nervous system as humans. They experience love, fear, anxiety, pain and mental suffering, just as we do. Take your dog or cat to the vet and watch the anxieties appear. When you hit your thumb with a hammer and jump around yelling, just remember that your animal would feel the exact severe pain if it happened to them.

Another reason for my staunch defense of wildlife, including wolves, is because each animal assists in protecting our ecosystem. God put everything together on purpose for a purpose. And God told us through Adam and Eve that we must tend the garden. That would mean also taking care of the animals sharing that garden.

Furthermore, we are to treat all living creatures with respect. I pity the person who has never had a pet. One has never been loved until they have been loved by a dog who gives unconditional love that too many people have never experienced.

We are supposed to care for God’s creation but we do not. We have a way of ignoring too many things and are letting everything, including environment, and even our families, take care of themselves.  As inventor Liza Marie Hart, known as the “female Einstein observed: “When man messes with God’s Ecosystem, we always have a catastrophe.

For information of the book, God and Animals, click this link or the picture.

© 2019 Austin Miles – All Rights Reserved

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Namibia: 57, 000 sign petition against Elephant hunting

Namibia: 57, 000 sign petition against Elephant hunting


About 57 508 people across the world have signed a petition for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to stop the hunting of desert elephants in Namibia.

Iris Koch from Esslingen, Germany, started the online petition on website.

She stated in the petition that Namibia’s desert elephants are iconic and highly endangered.

These animals are among the rarest creatures on this and have adapted to extremely arid desert conditions.

“These animals are among the rarest creatures on this and have adapted to extremely arid desert conditions.
Unfortunately, their extraordinary status makes them a preferred target for trophy hunters, and even though they are survival experts, desert elephants don’t stand a chance against the rifles of hunters,” she stated.

She added that they are horrified that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has sold three more permits for the hunting of desert elephant bulls in the Ugab region.

Koch said the small population in that area is on the brink of extinction, adding that the elephants left in the Ugab area in 2016 had gone down to 30, declining drastically year by year.

“A shocking five out of five newborn calves died, three adult females were lost, while the total number of breeding bulls in the Ugab river region amounted to five,” she said.

She noted that they were under the impression that desert elephants have been designated as a top priority for protection by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Even Idaho has laws against Wolf Hunting and Trapping

With Idaho Fish and Game winter feeding big game in areas of southern Idaho, hunters are reminded that mountain lions and gray wolves may not be hunted or pursued within one-half mile of any active Fish and Game big game feeding site.  In addition, wolves cannot be trapped within the same distance. 

Additional details on seasons and rules for wolf hunting and trapping, as well as mountain lion hunting rules can be found in the 2015 & 2016 Big Game Seasons and Rules brochure available at all Fish and Game license vendors and online at

copyrighted wolf argument settled