Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino is in critical condition, according to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).
As reported by The Star, Tam, who was first captured in Kretam, near Kinabatangan in August 2008, is fading fast after its health began to take a turn for the worse in April. Tam is currently being cared for around the clock in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, where it was transported when a coalition of Sabah Wildlife Department Staff, WWF-Malaysia, and the Borneo Rhino Alliance befriended it and coaxed it into a crate nearly 10 years ago.
Estimated to be around 20 years old at the time of capture, Tam is said to be “now well into old age for a Sumatran rhino,” according to SWD director Augustine Tuuga. Noting that Tam’s steady and calm manner made him a favourite of visitors and workers alike, Augustine said that, “It is receiving round-the-clock attention and medication. Tests are ongoing but it seems that one or more of its internal organs are not functioning well.”
Source: Borneo Rhino Alliance
Tam’s condition is even more worrying as rhinos have not been detected in Sabah’s jungles for a decade. Efforts to try to find a mate for Tam have hit a dead end as well, as two potential mates had to quickly be disqualified after one with diagnosed with multiple cysts in its uterus and the other was found to have large uterine fibroids.
Malaysia has been trying to save the Sumatran rhino from extinction, and in 2011 began using advanced reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilisation, and even cooperating with Indonesia. However, none of the efforts have been successful to date.
Poor Tam! We hope that the authorities will eventually find a way to re-establish this majestic species in our wildlife – it would be too sad to know that one of our iconic species is gone forever.
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