Sumatran rhinoceros becomes EXTINCT in Malaysia after last of the species in the country dies of cancer
- Iman, aged 25, died six months after the country’s last remaining male rhino
- Only 80 of that species of rhino are left living in the world
- ‘Iman was given the very best care and attention,’ experts say
The Sumatran rhino has become extinct in Malaysia after the last known species has died of cancer.
Iman, the 25-year-old rhino, died on Saturday after suffering significant pain from growing pressure of the uterine tumours to her bladder, according to the The Wildlife Department in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island.
Her death comes six months after the death of the country’s only male rhino in Sabah.
Rare rhino: The Sumatran rhino has become extinct in Malaysia following the death of Iman
She had diagnosed with tumours since being captured in March 2014.
Department director Augustine Tuuga said Iman’s death had come sooner than expected.
The rhino died at 5.35pm local time (09.35 GMT) on Saturday, according to Malaysia’s officials.
Efforts have been made to breed the species and Sabah authorities have harvested their cells in a bid to help boost the animal numbers.
Another female rhino also died in captivity in 2017.
Sabah environment minister Christina Liew said: ‘Despite us knowing that this would happen sooner rather than later, we are so very saddened by this news.
‘Its death was a natural one, and the immediate cause has been categorised as shock.
‘Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed.’
Ms Liew said that Iman had cheated death on a number of occasions during the past few years due to sudden massive blood loss.
Wildlife officials have managed to nurse her back to health and obtained her egg cells in the hope to work with counterparts in Indonesia to reproduce the critically endangered species through artificial insemination.
The Sumatra rhino is the smallest of the species and the only one to have two horns.
Fears for the future: The International Rhino Foundation fears the breed will become extinct in a matter of decades
The species once roamed across Asia as far as India, but its numbers have shrunk drastically due to deforestation and poaching.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are only around 80 rhinos left – the majority live in the wild in Sumatra and Borneo.
Their isolation, caused by habitat loss and poaching, means they rarely breed and may become extinct in a matter of decades, according to conservation group International Rhino Foundation.
Since 2011, Malaysia has tried to breed the species in captivity through in-vitro fertilization, but without success.
Saving the breed: Efforts have been made by experts to try and keep the rhinos alive but without success and there are only 80 rhinos living in Borneo and Sumatra