Tam, the last Sumatran male rhinoceros in Malaysia, died. The rhinoceros is extinct in the country.
The rhinoceros was found in 2008 on oil palm plantation. He was captured and brought to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah. There, Tam was bred with two females.
Those females were Puntung, who was brought to the Reserve in 2011, and Iman who came in 2014. Both attempts were not successful.
In 2017, Puntung developed cancer and was euthanized. Iman is the only Sumatran rhinoceros left in Malaysia.
The rhinoceros species have declined due to poaching and loss of their habitat. There are less than 80 Sumatran rhinoceros left in the wild. Primarily they are on Sumatra, which is an island nearby. The rest are in Kalimantan.
There are so few Sumatran rhinoceros’ left, and experts feel the biggest threat to the animal is isolation. A female rhino of this particular species can develop fibroids and cysts in their reproductive system if they go for an extended period without mating.
Iman became infertile because of this reason. Puntung could not carry a baby to term due to injuries she acquired from a poacher, and a miscarriage while she was in the wild.
Margaret Kinnard from WWF International said: “The death of Tam shows how important the work which is done by the Sumatran Rhinoceros Rescue project is. The rest of the rhinoceros’ must be captured in Sumatra and Kalimantan and encourage them to mate.”
Tam had developed medical conditions since April 2019. His alertness and appetite declined according to Augustine Tuuga, the Sabah Wildlife director.
Urine and medical tests revealed that Tam’s kidneys were failing.
Authorities think this could have been due to old age. Tam was in his thirties, and a rhinoceros’ lifespan is 35-40 years old.
Written by Barbara Sobel
CNN: Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino dies
National Geographic: Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies
The Guardian: Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino dies
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