Our Last Known Sumatran Rhino Is No More
At 5.35pm on Saturday, 23 November, we lost Iman.
The 25-year-old female was our last Sumatran rhinoceros.
The female rhino had been suffering from cancer
While announcing the sad news, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said Iman died of natural causes at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary located within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.
"Despite us knowing that this would happen sooner rather than later, we are so very saddened by this news. No one could have done more," Christina was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
"She was actually quite close to death when sudden massive blood loss from the uterine tumours occurred on several occasions over the past few years," she said, adding that Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed.
With the death of Iman, the species is now officially extinct in Malaysia
According to The Guardian, Malaysia's last male Sumantran rhino, named Kertam, died in May this year and another female rhino also died in captivity in 2017.
The Sabah government's efforts to breed them have so far proved futile as the sperm were of poor quality.
However, wildlife officials in the state have obtained Iman's egg cells for a proposed collaboration between Malaysia-Indonesia to protect the species.
Although, The Star reported that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries have not been signed prior to Iman's death.
"There are still ways in which we can collaborate based on our different experiences over the past decade," Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga was quoted as saying.
"For Sabah, that includes the management of female Sumatran rhinos with reproductive pathology, safe harvesting of gametes from living rhinos and cell culture."