Animal lovers around the world are grieving the death of Iman, the last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia.
The female rhino passed away due to cancer on Saturday, just months after Tam, the last Malaysian male rhino, died in May. Now all that remains of the species are the 80 Sumatran rhinos currently living in Indonesia, National Geographic reports.
“Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed. No one could have done more,” Sabah State’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Christine Liew was quoted as saying.
Iman, who was captured and brought to Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah in 2014, was paired with Tam to be bred. However, efforts to breed the endangered species were unsuccessful. Puntung, another female Sumatran rhino captured in 2011, also failed to breed with Tam. She was euthanized due to cancer in 2017.
Poaching and destruction of their natural habitat have caused the numbers of Sumatran rhinos to dwindle over the years. The remaining rhinos of such kind are believed to exist mainly on the nearby island of Sumatra while the rest are spread across Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo.
Experts have identified isolation as the biggest threat to the rhinos as prolonged periods without mating may cause the growth of cysts and fibroids in their reproductive tracts. This was reportedly the reason for Iman’s infertility.
Since 2018, concerned groups have made efforts to collaborate and capture as many wild rhinos as possible for captive breeding.
According to WWF International wildlife practice leader Margaret Kinnaird, the organizations involved are committed to encouraging the rhinos to make babies for the future of the species.
“Our most recent surveys indicate there are other rhinos still roaming in Kalimantan’s forests,” Kinnaird was quoted as saying, “which gives me renewed hope.”