KOTA KINABALU: A procedure may save Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino Iman from dying of her uterine leiomyoma tumour bleeding, but there are no known experts able to carry it out, an official said today.
Iman is the last female Sumatran rhino after Puntung, which attracted global attention after enduring dental surgery by a multinational team at the reserve.
Puntung, who was dying of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, was put to sleep in June last year.
“Iman’s most recent bleeding is severe, possibly from the detached smooth muscle tumour inside her uterus,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said in a statement.
“The blood, with some clots, is seen coming out from her vagina whenever she lies down.
“We are hoping that Tanexamic acid would help clot and stop the bleeding in the uterus. The same treatment worked in the previous three bleeding episodes in Iman.
“The main problem is that, with the massive bleeding in the uterus, cauterising the bleeders might be the only way to stop it.
“However, no known experts are available to do the procedure and the anaesthetic risk is high.”
Carers have been keeping watch on Iman 24 hours a day since Dec 14 last year.
“At the moment, we are maintaining her with nutritious food and supplements,” Tuuga said.
“The weather too has not been easy for the keepers gathering her food each morning.
“It’s hard to say definitely if she will pull through if the bleeding is not stopped soon.”
According to Tuuga, Iman is eating about 40-50% of her normal intake, which translates into 12kg to 17kg.
She was hand-fed inside the chute whenever she comes in, day and night.
She is also very selective about her diet and was fed at least 10 species of plants.
“About six species of plants were hung up inside the night stall for her to browse,” said the official.
“She also gets about 3kg to 4kg of fruits, consisting of bananas and mangoes. Fruits were also used to bait her with medicines.
“She drinks from the water containers provided in the night stall.”
Several times a day, Iman would stand in front of the grilled door to her paddock and gaze in the direction of her previous mud wallow.
As an alternative, she gets her mud packs twice a day, explained Tuuga.
“This is to prevent skin cracks and discomfort. All her footpads or soles are detaching since she came into the night stall on Dec 18,” he said.
“This could have been due to the dehydration, previously. The raw footpads are treated three times daily.
“Currently, as the new soles harden, the detaching foot pads would be removed.”
Iman is being kept at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.