A flexible, snakelike robot could serve as a vital lifeline for bringing the northern white rhino back from the brink of extinction.

Scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have partnered with the San Diego Zoo to develop the unique device, which they believe could assist with the artificial reproduction process for rhinos.

The northern white rhino has been nearing extinction for some time, with just two specimens left in the world, both of which are female.

Scientists are now ‘racing against the clock’ to save the species, which has been decimated as a result of habitat loss and poaching.

‘Hope for their survival now rests on scientists’ ability to develop innovative methods for repopulating the species,’ UCSD said in a statement.

The robotic device could be the innovative method they’ve been looking for.

‘It’s essentially a long, thin catheter that can be steered through a rhino’s cervix to deliver a specimen to the uterus,’ Michael Yip, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCSD, said in a statement.

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