KOTA KINABALU: The last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia died on Saturday (Nov 23), Sabah's tourism, culture and environment minister Christina Liew said.
The female rhinoceros named Iman died at 5.35 pm after suffering from tumours in her uterus. The immediate cause of death was shock, Liew said, quoting the Sabah Wildlife Department.
"Iman was given the very best care and attention ever since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed. No one could have done more.
"She was actually quite close to death when sudden massive blood loss from the uterine tumours occurred on several occasions over the past few years,” Liew said in a statement.
"The team at Tabin provided round-the-clock intensive support and successfully brought her back to good health and egg cell production on several occasions," she added.
The state had hoped to obtain some egg cells from Iman for the proposed Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration on the species.
Liew said there are still ways in which the two countries can collaborate based on their different experiences over the past decade.
"For Sabah that includes management of female Sumatran rhinos with reproductive pathology, safe harvesting of gametes from living rhinos, and cell culture.
"Iman and Tam both live on as cell cultures in Malaysia," she said.
Tam was Malaysia’s last surviving male Sumatran rhinoceros. He died in May following a bout of ill health.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga in the same statement said Iman’s death came sooner than the department expected, but they knew that the she was starting to suffer significant pain from the growing pressure of the tumour into her bladder.