Last rhino’s autopsy reveals Tam suffered from kidney failure

Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino, Tam, died on Monday.

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino, Tam, that died on Monday was suffering from kidney failure, kidney stones and had liver disease, according to the final autopsy report.

Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew told the media today that the report also revealed that Tam had four lead pellets and some fragments on his right thigh and neck and the lower part of its tail had been shot off.

“These would have been dated long before his capture in 2008. They are unlikely to have contributed significantly to his poor health,” she said.

The state tourism, culture and environment minister said the rhino’s cause of death had been ruled as due to shock as a result of massive bleeding within the abdomen.

“This was a result of kidney failure, which had many negative effects on the body. In particular, the high amounts of nitrogenous metabolic waste products were not being filtered out.

“This led to toxaemia (blood poisoning) or azotaemia (a medical condition characterised by abnormally high levels of nitrogen-containing compounds in the blood),” she said.

The kidney disease, she said, caused toxins to build up in the blood and inadequate emission of hydrogen ions from the system, causing acidosis (an excessively acid condition of the body fluids or tissues).

“The circulating urea, in particular, disrupted blood platelet function leading to excessive bleeding.

“The acidosis and impairment of platelets together caused the massive haemorrhage seen in the rhino’s abdomen,” she said.

Liew, however, said the precise origin of the kidney disease could not be determined but was chronic and linked to its old age.

“In addition, acidosis would have caused muscle degeneration, while the kidney disease would have caused deficiency of haemoglobin in the blood by disrupting the hormone erythropoietin secreted by the kidney for formation of red blood cells.

“The liver was jaundiced,” she said.

She said samples of the kidney, spleen, colonic lymph nodes, small intestines, heart and lungs had been sent for bacteriological and histopathological (microscopic) testing at independent laboratories.