01.05.2019 30.04.2022
Application Phase
Selection phase
Funding phase

BioRescue – Advanced reproductive technologies for saving critically endangered mammals like the northern white rhinoceros

There are only two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, which puts this species on the brink of extinction. A team of researchers hopes to prevent the disappearance of the most rare large mammal on Earth. The pioneering BioRescue project applies innovative reproductive technologies in its endeavour to secure the survival of this species. The BMBF provides 4.2 million euros in funding for the BioRescue project.

The white rhinoceros is the largest of the rhino species and the third largest land mammal on Earth, outsized only by the elephant. The northern white rhinoceros is considered extinct in the wild. In human captivity there are only two females alive – and thus are no longer able to breed naturally. The research team is using assisted reproduction and other innovative approaches in biomedicine in an effort to find the key to the northern white rhinoceros' survival.

The experience gained and the techniques applied may contribute to saving other endangered mammalian species from extinction in the future. BioRescue is a highly ambitious project by scientific standards. Its use of high-tech in the field of species conservation combines innovation, excellent research and sustainability.

Ethical issues arising from the use of reproductive technologies are addressed in an accompanying study, in dialogue with various stakeholders from society.

The interdisciplinary, international BioRescue research consortium unites leading experts from the following institutions in Europe and Asia:

  • Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (Coordination)
  • Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
  • AVANTEA, Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies, Italy
  • Safari Park Dvůr Králové, Czech Republic
  • Università degli studi di Padova, Italy
  • Kyushu University, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Japan

The BMBF is supporting the BioRescue project with funding worth 4.2 million euros for a period of three years. BioRescue is one of the first projects being funded under the new Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity. As such, it is an "immediate action" measure and complements the BMBF's precautionary research approach to species protection and conservation.

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