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Iman, Our Last Sumatran Rhino In Malaysia, Dies

The Sumatran Rhinoceros is now officially extinct in Malaysia. 

Iman, the 25-year-old female Sumatran rhino succumbed to cancer at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu on Saturday (November 23). Tam, Malaysia’s last male rhino, died on May 27 this year. The species is now considered to be locally extinct and survives only in Indonesia.


Image credit: The Star Online

Iman had suffered from uterine tumours since her capture in March 2014. The tumours had spread to her bladder which caused her to suffer significant pain from the growing pressure. According to Datuk Christine Liew, Sabah State’s Deputy Chief Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, she escaped death several times over the past few years when sudden massive blood loss from the uterine tumours occurred on several occasions. 

She said that they are still very saddened by the news of Iman’s death despite knowing that it would happen sooner rather than later. 

“Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed. No one could have done more,” she said.

Rhino 3 (National Geographic)

Image credit: National Geographic

Meanwhile, according to Malay Mail, The Sabah Wildlife Department had hoped that it would still be possible to obtain some egg cells from Iman for the proposed Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration on this species. However, collaboration is still pending. 

“I would like to inform our counterparts in Indonesia that I am keen to pursue the Memorandum of Understanding. There are still ways in which our countries can usefully collaborate based on our different experience over the past decade,”

“For Sabah that includes management of female Sumatran rhinos with reproductive pathology, safe harvesting of gametes from living rhinos, and cell culture. Iman and Tam both live on as cell cultures in Malaysia,” said Liew.

Rhino 2 (National Geographic)

Image credit: National Geographic

Our country is home to some of the most iconic wildlife species in the world, including the Malayan tiger, the Bornean elephant, the Bornean orangutan and many more. If we don’t play a part in protecting these endangered species, they are in danger of facing a similar fate of extinction. We should all be responsible and learn from the loss of Iman.

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