Kuala Lumpur: The Sumatran rhinoceros have officially become extinct in Malaysia, after the last of the species in the country succumbed to cancer at a sanctuary in Borneo. The female rhino, named Iman, who was estimated to be about 25 years old, died on Saturday at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
“It is with great sadness that the Sabah Wildlife Department announces the death of Iman, the last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia, at 5.35pm on Nov 23,2019, ” said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
“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,” she added.
In a Facebook post, The Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), which operates the sanctuary, described Iman as “the sweetest soul, who brought so much joy and hope to all of us.”
Iman’s death comes six months after Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino Tam, died in May this year. Liew also said that Iman had escaped death several times over the past few years due to sudden massive blood loss, but wildlife officials managed to nurse her back to health.
John Payne, executive director of Borneo Rhino Alliance said the Sumatran rhinos have been hard hit by factors including changes in climate, vegetation and hunting for traditional Chinese medicine.
The Sumatra rhino is the smallest of the rhinoceros species and the only rhino with two horns. The WWF conservation group estimates that there are only about 80 left, mostly living in the wild in Sumatra and Borneo. Twitter offered its condolences after the saddening news: