Malaysia's Very Last Male Sumatran Rhino Has Died

Kertam had health complications leading up to his death.

Cover image via Borneo Rhino Alliance/Malay Mail (Edited by SAYS)

Malaysia's sole surviving male Sumatran rhinoceros, Kertam, has passed away around noon today, 27 May

Malay Mail reported that Kertam - affectionately nicknamed "Tam" - was one of two surviving Sumatran rhinos which had been kept in captivity with the hopes of breeding for conservation efforts.

Tam was taken into captivity in August 2008. It is believed he was around 20 years old at that time.

Tam had been suffering from kidney and liver damage for some time leading up to his passing

"Invariably, everything that could possibly have been done, was done, and executed with great love and dedication," said Tourism, Culture and Environment deputy minister Datuk Christina Liew, according to Malay Mail.

Tourism, Culture and Environment deputy minister Datuk Christina Liew.

Image via Malai Rosmah Tuah/New Straits Times

"His last weeks involved the most intense palliative care humanly possible, rendered by the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) team under veterinarian Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu."

An autopsy on Tam's corpse will be carried out to officially determine the cause of his death, though it is believed he died of old age and multiple organ failure.

The rhino's passing marks Malaysia's lost battle on rhino conservation, which has been ongoing since 1980

Puntung, a female Sumatran rhino, had to be euthanised in 2017 due to skin cancer.

Image via New Straits Times

On Sunday, 26 May, senior conservationists told The Star that Malaysia had reached the "end of the road" in preserving the critically endangered Sumatran rhino from extinction.

"Sabah wildlife authorities should accept the fact that the rhino conservation has been a failure and move on," an unnamed senior conservationist said.

However, there is one small ray of hope with the preservation of Tam's living genome

"We hope that with emerging technologies at cell and molecular level, he may yet contribute his genes to the survival of the species," Liew told Malay Mail.

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