Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered creatures. Just earlier this year, our last male rhino, Tam has passed on, leaving only Iman as the sole Sumatran rhino in Malaysia. It is believed that there are less than 80 wild Sumatran rhinoceros left in the wild in all the world.
Earlier today, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew has said that we are on the verge of losing Iman.
According to NST, the condition of the 25-year-old female rhino that’s been under the care of a team of caregivers led by Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu is getting worse.
Datuk Christina Liew said:
“This week, Iman’s body weight is 476 kilogrammes, 44 kg less than her average weight over the past few years. She is not eating her normal amount and is being given supplements.”
“This situation reminds us of the case of Puntung, who was euthanised on June 4th, 2017, because her squamous cell carcinoma was incurable and she was suffering pain.”
Iman was first found in March 2014, and at that time, she already had cancer. The cancer is said to be not malignant, but the cells have now spread to her urinary bladder.
The vets that were attending to Iman said that there is no way to stop the tumours in her body from growing and surgically removing them is not the way to go as it will cause significant blood loss, which will be dangerous to her.
To make sure that there’ll be continuity after Iman, the state government is trying to expedite the legal process with Indonesian counterparts for in-vitro fertilisation.
She explained that what they will do is to harvest an ovum from Iman to be fused with Indonesian rhinos’ sperm cells.
There were previous attempts of fusing Iman’s ovum with frozen sperm at a University Malaysia Sabah facility in Sandakan. But as the sperm cells (they were from Tam before he passed on) were not of good quality, the attempts failed.
That is such a sad thing to hear. We hope that the fusion of the ovum and sperm cells will be successful so that the Sumatran rhino bloodline continues.
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