A group of scientists has successfully managed to crowdfund over  R204 000 to help save the Black Rhino subspecies in South Africa by sequencing the genome of one of the only surviving animals.

Six-year-old Ntombi is one of 5 055 living black rhino that are part of five subspecies that are at risk of becoming extinct. Three black rhino subspecies have already been wiped off the face of the earth, largely due to poaching and environmental issues in various parts of the continent.

The Black Rhino Genome Project, which comprises over 166 scientists and other experts in the animal conservation, field hopes to make sure the subspecies doesn’t suffer the same fate by performing the first ever genome sequencing.

To make the project a reality, a crowdfunding project launched on science projects crowdfunding platform, Experiment, and now it has surpassed its target of $16 500, raising $17 292 by the time campaign closed.

“Because of advances in sequencing technology, the costs for sequencing have dropped dramatically,” the Black Rhino Genome Project campaign page reads. “With the genome of the black rhino we will be able to answer the following questions. How did the black rhino evolve into a subspecies? What loci in the black rhino genome show a susceptibility to disease?.”

Researchers will use the data from the genome sequencing to create a biobank of genomic data for the remaining black rhino subspecies and hope it will be a catalyst to sequence all subspecies of black rhino and understand the genetic divergence within and between all rhino species.

All data will be published in a peer review journal and be openly available for other experts to use.

“This will be a foundation that future researcher can utilize(sic) and could possibly help bring the three currently extinct black rhinoceros subspecies back into existence,” the project added.

[Source – Experiment via The Washington Post, image – Experiment]