Najin (foreground), 30, and daughter Fatu, 19, two female northern white rhinos, the last two northern white rhinos left on the planet, graze in their secured paddock on August 23, 2019 at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, 147 kilometres north of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. - Veterinarians have successfully harvested eggs from the last two surviving northern white rhinos, taking them one step closer to bringing the species back from the brink of extinction, scientists said in Kenya on August 23. Science is the only hope for the northern white rhino after the death last year of the last male, named Sudan, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where the groundbreaking procedure was carried out August 22, 2019. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
Najin (foreground), 30, and daughter Fatu, 19, two female northern white rhinos, the last two northern white rhinos left on the planet (AFP)

Without some form of human intervention, the northern white rhino will become extinct.

There are only two members of the species left in the world, both female. And while time is running out, not all hope is lost.

A team of scientists announced on Wednesday they have succeeded in creating two embryos of the animal as part of an international effort to save the species.

The embryos, created in the lab with eggs taken from the females and frozen sperm from dead males, are now stored in liquid nitrogen, to be transferred into a surrogate mother – a southern white rhino – in the near future.

‘Today we achieved an important milestone on a rocky road which allows us to plan the future steps in the rescue program of the northern white rhino,’ said Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany.

A researcher works at the Avantea laboratory inseminating eggs from the last two remaining female of northern white rhinos with frozen sperm from two rhino bulls of the same species, in Cremona, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. The northern white rhino is on the verge of extinction but Sunday's operation raises hopes that they'll survive. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A researcher works at the Avantea laboratory inseminating eggs from the last two remaining female northern white rhinos with frozen sperm (AP)
A monitor displays the inseminating of eggs from the last two remaining female of northern white rhinos with frozen sperm from two rhino bulls of the same species, at the Avantea laboratory in Cremona, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. The northern white rhino is on the verge of extinction but Sunday's operation raises hopes that they'll survive. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A monitor displays the inseminating of eggs (AP)

The institute is part of an international consortium of scientists and conservationists that has been planning and developing the procedure for years.

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The ultimate goal is to create a herd of at least five animals that could be returned to their natural habitat in Africa. That could take decades.

The last male northern white rhino was a 45-year-old named Sudan, who gained fame in 2017 when he was listed as “The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” on the Tinder dating app as part of fundraising effort.

Sudan, named for the country where he was born in the wild, was euthanized in 2018 because of age-related ills.

A caretaker feeds carrots to Fatu, 19, and her mother Najin (background), 30, two female northern white rhinos, the last two northern white rhinos left on the planet, in their secured paddock on August 23, 2019 at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, 147 kilometres north of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. - Veterinarians have successfully harvested eggs from the last two surviving northern white rhinos, taking them one step closer to bringing the species back from the brink of extinction, scientists said in Kenya on August 23. Science is the only hope for the northern white rhino after the death last year of the last male, named Sudan, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where the groundbreaking procedure was carried out August 22, 2019. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP)TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
A caretaker feeds carrots to Fatu and her mother in their secured paddock (AFP)

The creation of the embryos was achieved at Cremona’s Avantea Laboratories. Cesare Galli and his team extracted five immature egg cells from each of the remaining females, Najin and Fatu, who live in Kenya.

After being incubated, seven of those cells matured and were suitable for fertilization. Two of the fertilized eggs developed into viable embryos.

‘Five years ago it seemed like the production of a northern white rhino embryo was an almost unachievable goal – and today we have them,’ said Jan Stejskal, director of communication at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, where Najin and Fatu were born. ‘This fantastic achievement of the whole team allows us to be optimistic over our next steps.’

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