Freezing rhino genetics now for the future

The Institute of Rhino Cryogenetics is providing an ‘INSURANCE POLICY‘ for rhino NOW before it is too late, by saving viable skin cells, sperm and eggs for the future.

By saving these cells now, we are ensuring that these different genetics are preserved, even if rhino numbers, and hence the potential genetic diversity, fall dramatically due to poaching. Once frozen, these cells can be stored for a long time, and may be reintroduced into the wild gene pool at a later stage in the future using assisted reproduction techniques.

Of course as many live animals as possible must be saved, but if we can go one step further and save the genetics of additional animals, including those animals that are being slaughtered, we have a better chance that the species will not become extinct and that a degree of genetic vigor will remain.

The threat to one of the world’s last remaining mega fauna species cannot be ignored from a biological perspective and if this species is to survive the onslaught of poaching and thrive into the future, a degree of forward and visionary thinking is required. This project will provide the first biological solution for rhino, as a backdrop to the security and anti-poaching efforts being carried out at present.

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Detail of sample collection:

1. Collect and store skin tissue cryogenically, from live and / or dead white and black rhino.

  • Skin samples are collected from live animals which have been sedated for translocation or for veterinary reasons, or when being held in sale pens. Small plugs or ear notched of skin can be taken from each rhino, with minimum distress and injury to the animal.
  • Skin, ovary, testes and epididymis samples can be collected from dead animals (from any corpses that are still fresh and have not started to decompose), that may have died as result of natural causes, disease or as a result of poaching for their horn.
  • All samples will be processed and frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored in the IRC Rhino Biobank.

2. DNA profile all rhino tissue samples collected, to establish genetic variation and degree of polymorphism within rhino gene pool.

  • Analyse DNA profile of each sample of rhino tissue collected, in collaboration with Dr. Cindy Harper (Board member of the IRC) at the Laboratory of Veterinary Genetics, Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria. This information will be essential for matching animals genetics later.
  • DNA profiles of all rhino sampled by IRC will be added to the rhODIS DNA database for the purpose of forensics and crime investigation and prevention.


Any money raised for this project will be used to purchase essential liquid nitrogen storage flasks, and the liquid nitrogen needed for storage of samples for one year. It will also provide the equipment for collection and freezing of samples: tubes, storage tubes, media and freezing liquids.

Another way to help is connect us to your network. The more people that know what we are trying to achieve the better!

animals, southafrica, africa, endangeredspecies, rhino, blackrhino, whiterhino, science, rhinoconservation, criticallyendangeredspecies, rhinopoaching


  1. Anonymous donation

    15 June 2015

  2. Anonymous donation

    15 May 2015

  3. Anonymous donation

    15 April 2015

17 Donations