Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Helping to save the rhino

14 January 2014

Helping to save the rhino

Research from Victoria University has revealed a way to help secure the future of an endangered species of black rhinoceros in South Africa.

Rosalynn Anderson-Lederer, who spent six months working with black rhino in KwaZulu-Natal  province in south-eastern South Africa, looked at how quickly genetic variation is being lost in the endangered rhino population and discovered that the decline can be slowed, and possibly reversed.


Click for big version.

“Simply by bringing in a pair of rhinos, one male and one female, from other parts of Africa once every generation, so once every 14 years, genetic variability can be increased,” she says.

Rosalynn, who recently graduated from Victoria University with a PhD in Cell and Molecular Bioscience, says that high levels of genetic variability are important to improve chances of survival.

“If a species has low levels, it should be able to survive slight to moderate changes to the environment, or disease or injury, but may not be able to survive if it encounters more than one of these things at the same time. Species with higher levels of genetic variation tend to thrive better.”

Studies have shown that, overall, species with low levels of genetic variability are at greater risk of extinction than those with high levels.

“If genetic variation loss in endangered populations can be slowed down, it could give the population a chance to adapt to future changes in the environment or diseases,” she says.

Rosalynn, originally from San Diego, went to South Africa in 2008 and 2009, for three months at a time, to collect genetic material from the black rhinoceros.

“To bring down a black rhino in order to collect blood and tissue is an amazing feat,” she says. The rhino has to be identified from a helicopter and then “darted” with an anaesthetic.

“Once the rhino stops you have to act quickly as its metabolism is quite delicate. The veterinarian is careful and if the rhino shows any signs of distress they reverse the anaesthetic.

“If the rhino is breathing normally and sleeping, you have 20 minutes from start to finish to take enough blood and tissue and to get a radio transmitter in the horn.”

Back in Wellington, she spent a number of months testing the samples in the lab. “Extracting DNA can take anywhere from several hours to a few days, depending on how you extract it. With an endangered species, you have a limited number of samples to work with,” she adds.

The management of genetic variation is important for species that depend on human intervention for survival.

“There a number of species, both plant and animal, which would be extinct if not for human intervention,” says Rosalynn, “and there is something very rewarding about finding something that is going to help an endangered species.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Australians Scoring Trade Points Against Us With The Chinese

It hasn’t been a great year for Trade Minister Tim Groser... To top it off, Australia has just signed a FTA with China that has far better provisions on dairy exports than what New Zealand currently enjoys in our own FTA with China. More>>

ALSO:

Iwi & Local Consultation: Oil And Gas Block Offer 2015 Begins

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges today announced the start of the Block Offer 2015 process for awarding oil and gas exploration permits. More>>

Industrial Action: Stats NZ Throwing Public Money Away Duplicating Data

The Public Service Association (PSA) says Statistics NZ are throwing money away by collecting the same data twice for official statistics such as the Consumer Price Index... As part of the ongoing industrial action, field interviewers who are PSA members are continuing to collect data, but are not sending it through to Statistics NZ. More>>

ALSO:

Other Stats:

Space: Rosetta's 'Philae' Makes Historic First Landing On A Comet

After more than a decade traveling through space, a robotic lander built by the European Space Agency has made the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news