- The project could have massive implications for poaching by allowing scientists to manufacture synthetic rhino horn virtually indistinguishable from real horns. Between 1970 and 1992, 96% of Africa's black rhino population were wiped out by poachers, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).
- The research team, led by Dr Chuck Murry of the University of Washington, are seeking to sequence the genetic data of Ntombi, one of just 5,000 remaining black rhinos in the world. Murry says the idea of genetically engineering DNA of extinct black rhino subspecies and eventually reintroducing certain subspecies constitutes a "much more ambitious goal" of the project, but one which the team is nevertheless pursuing.
- Rhino horn is considered to have medicinal properties in certain countries, with Vietnam identified as the largest user of rhino horn. In South Africa, which has the world's largest rhino population, more than 1,200 rhinos were poached last year - equivalent to one every eight hours.
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