This footage shows Malaysia’s last surviving male Sumatran rhinoceros amid fears that his internal organs are failing before he has found a mate.
The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), also known as the Asian two-horned rhinoceros, is categorised as ‘critically endangered’ by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Video Credit: AsiaWire/@BORAborneorhinoalliance
The male rhino, named Tam, was caught in the north-eastern Malaysian district of Kinabatangan in the northern part of the island of Borneo in 2008 after he wandered into an oil palm plantation.
Members of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) managed to lead the rhino into a cage after a week-long operation, according to reports.
Tam has since been living at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and officials are worried that his health is quickly deteriorating.
Christina Liew, state minister for tourism, culture and the environment, said: “His appetite and alertness have declined abruptly since last month.”
She added: “Tests are ongoing, but it seems that one or more of his internal organs are not functioning well.”
After three years at the reserve, officials tried to find a mate for him and reportedly captured Puntung in 2011, however she was diagnosed with multiple cysts in her uterus.
In 2014, female rhino Iman was brought to the reserve but she was found to have uterine fibroids.
Liew said: “These illnesses are a reflection of too few rhinos and insufficient breeding success during the last decades of the 20th century.”
According to reports, Puntung was diagnosed with advanced cancer and was put down in 2017.
In collaboration with Indonesian authorities, Malaysia has been trying to save the critically-endangered species with advanced breeding programmes that include IVF.
However, Liew said that until now, “these efforts have not been met with success”.
There are believed to be fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos in existence, with Malaysia declaring the species extinct in the wild in 2015.
Sadly, they have been poached to near extinction for their valuable horns, which are used in traditional Asian medicine and often are often sold at prices that rival gold.
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Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report