With the death of Iman, Malaysia has lost its last Sumatran Rhinoceros today.
She had been battling an illness prior to her death.
According to the Sabah Wildlife Department, Iman died at 5.35pm of natural causes, categorised as shock.
“Iman’s death came sooner than we had expected. “But we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain from the growing pressure of the tumours into the bladder,” said Augustine Tuuga, director of Sabah Wildlife Department in a statement.
The statement added that veterinarian at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, had earlier today suggested to start using morphine tomorrow, as other painkillers were becoming insufficient.
The Sabah Wildlife Department had hoped that it would still be possible to obtain some egg cells from Iman for the proposed Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration on this species.
But the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding is still pending.
It was reported that State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew had said the state government is hoping to expedite the legality process with Indonesia to fertilise Iman’s egg with the republic’s male Rhino and surrogate female Rhino.
“I would like to inform our counterparts in Indonesia that I am keen to pursue the MoU. Iman’s death is a tragedy, but this is one event in a bigger picture.
“There are still ways in which our twin countries can usefully collaborate based on our different experience 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,” said Liew.
Despite knowing that Iman’s death was imminent, Liew said she was still very saddened by this news.
“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,” she added.
In addition, Liew said the team at Tabin Wildlife Reserve provided round-the-clock intensive support and successfully brought her back to good health and egg cell production on several occasions.
On Wednesday, the 25-year-old Iman was reported as deteriorating from non-malignant tumours.
The tumour has been with her since her capture and had spread to her urinary bladder.