Malaysia’s last Sumatran rhinoceros has regained her health after receiving treatment for a uterine tumour last year.
Iman, who lives at the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary (BRS) in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu is now the nation’s sole remaining member of its species.
She became the last Sumatran rhino in Malaysia after her partner, Kertam, died of old age and internal organ failure in May.
Today I had the great privilege of meeting Iman. She is the very last Malaysian Sumatran rhino on earth. You can listen to this video and hear her contented munching, or you can hear the plaintive calls of the last individual of a species. This is what extinction looks like. pic.twitter.com/LtpwIZkRDH— Bella Lack 🌱 (@BellaLack) June 28, 2019
FYI, fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos are believed to exist in the wild.
Their extinction due to decades of habitat loss and poaching. Now, most of them are in Sumatra with the rest scattered across Kalimantan in Indonesia.
In Malaysia, the animal is already extinct in the wild.
Sabah Wildlife Department director, Augustine Tuuga said that Iman is still receiving follow-up treatment to prevent the tumour in her uterus from becoming worse.
However, she is now back to her normal self and her appetite has completely improved!
Unfortunately, due to the tumour, Iman can no longer get pregnant even though she is still producing eggs.
Therefore, in an effort to save the species in Malaysia, Indonesia has agreed to collaborate with us.
Iman will be undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment with the sperm of a male Sumatran rhino from Indonesia and then a surrogate female rhinoceros, also from Indonesia, will be used to carry the baby rhino until full term.
Female Sumatran rhinos can develop cysts and fibroids in their reproductive tracts if they go too long without mating. This is also the cause of Iman’s infertility.
The Sabah Wildlife Department is reportedly now waiting for help from an expert in Germany to carry out the treatment on Iman.
In case you were wondering about the rights over the baby rhinoceros in the event of a successful IVF, Augustine explained that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would have to be signed with Indonesia before the process is carried out.
We really hope the IVF works and we get a baby rhino soon! They’re so cute!