The Sumatran rhinoceros has become extinct in Malaysia, after the last of the species in the country succumbed to cancer.
The Wildlife Department in eastern Sabah State on Borneo said the rhino, named Iman, died on Saturday of natural causes due to shock in her system.
She had uterine tumors since her capture in March 2014.
Photo: AP / Sabah Deputy Chief Minister’s Office
Department Director Augustine Tuuga said in a statement that Iman, who reportedly was 25 years old, was suffering significant pain from growing pressure of the tumors to her bladder, but that her death came sooner than expected.
It came six months after the death of the country’s only male rhino in Sabah. Another female rhino also died in captivity in 2017 in the state.
Efforts to breed them have been futile, but Sabah authorities have harvested their cells for possible reproduction.
“Despite us knowing that this would happen sooner rather than later, we are so very saddened by this news,” said Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew, who is also the state’s environment minister.
Liew said that Iman had escaped death several times over the past few years due to sudden massive blood loss, but that wildlife officials managed to nurse her back to health and obtained her egg cells for a possible collaboration with Indonesia to reproduce the critically endangered species through artificial insemination.
The Sumatran rhino, the smallest of five rhinoceros species, once roamed across Asia as far as India, but its numbers have shrunk drastically due to deforestation and poaching.
The WWF estimates that there are only about 80 left, mostly living in the wild in Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature identifies the Sumatran as well as the Black and Javan rhinoceros as being critically endangered.
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