Scientists successfully freeze Barbary sheep embryos for conservation purposes

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The (Ammotragus lervia), or aoudad, is a goat-antelope found in . It is currently listed as Vulnerable by the , with populations imperiled by hunting, habitat loss, and competition with livestock. Still little is known about its remaining population, prompting scientists in Mexico to test possible assisted reproduction of captive individuals. Through techniques used on other ungulates, the researchers successfully obtained five embryos, which were then frozen for future reproduction, according to a new paper in Tropical Conservation Science.

Barbary sheep in Tennoji Zoo. Photo by: Kuribo.

“We explored the feasibility of assisted reproduction in captive aoudad females using non-traditional techniques, in order to obtain the best results using the minimum possible number of animals,” the researchers write.

The scientists worked with five Barbary sheep at Leon’s Zoological Park in Mexico. They caused the females to produce eggs by stimulating hormones and then obtained the eggs via surgery. Embryos were frozen using a device dubbed Cryotop®.

“Considering the uncertainty of the conservation status of the population of aoudad subspecies in situ and the possible need for intensive actions for the recovery of the natural populations in the near future, this study established the basis of a successful protocol that can help in intensive actions for its conservation,” the researchers write.

They recommend new surveys of Barbary sheep in Africa to determine the state of the wild population and a willingness to use in order to boost the species’ numbers if necessary.

CITATION: López–Saucedo, J., Ramón-Ugalde, J. P., Barroso-Padilla, J. J., Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez, A. M., Fierro, R., Piña-Aguilar, R. E. 2013. Superovulation, in vivo embryo recovery and for Aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) females using osmotic pumps and vitrification: a preliminary experience and its implications for conservation. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 6(1):149-157.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0318-hance-tcs-barbary-embryo.

Supertrooper

Founder and Executive Editor

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