The grand animals are killed for their horns, used as carving material and in traditional Chinese medicine. Groundbreaking work to keep alive the northern white rhino subspecies by in-vitro fertilization has been stalled by travel restrictions.
Conservationists have successfully created two northern white rhino embryos in a key step towards pulling the species back from the brink of extinction, scientists in Italy say.
Fears over the future of the northern white rhino increase after the last male of the subspecies in Kenya dies. But advances in fertility treatment, may mean the rare animal will re-emerge in the future.
The 44-year-old rhino, Sudan, and his last two female companions are unable to breed naturally because of issues that include old age, casting the fate of the species even more into doubt.
The illegal hunters broke into Thoiry zoo, west of Paris, killed the rare white rhino before sawing off its horn. A kilogramme of rhino horn fetched 51,000 euros ($53,900) on the black market in 2015.
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