KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s last living female Sumatran rhinoceros in Sabah is seriously ill, an official has said.
In an advisory to the media today, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said it was another piece of sad news for the department.
“Only half a year after the demise of Puntung, Malaysia’s second to last living female Sumatran rhinoceros, now the very last female named Iman, has a serious health problem,” he said.
“Bleeding from her uterine leiomyoma tumours started three days ago. Usually, this can be treated with medication and supplements.
“This time, Iman is refusing to leave her mud wallow and she has hardly eaten, so the usual treatment has not been possible. She charges at anyone who comes near.”
Augustine said the department believed that one of her larger tumours might have ruptured and was causing pain and bleeding.
According to him, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve has received six metres of rainfall in 2017, so her paddock has become a quagmire, making things even more difficult.
“Both Borneo Rhino Alliance veterinarians are constantly monitoring Iman, along with the keepers. We are hoping for the best and will keep the public informed,” added Augustine.
Puntung, which attracted global attention for enduring dental surgery by a multinational team at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, was dying of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
In May, Augustine had said the swelling on Puntung’s left cheek that led to the detection of an infected tooth root that had worsened and two biopsies carried out post-surgery revealed the rhino was suffering from skin cancer.
“The cancer has been spreading rapidly over the past few weeks. Specialists from several countries concur that it will be fatal with or without treatment,” he said.
Puntung was put to sleep at the reserve in June.