Tam, Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino is no more

Tam, Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino is no more

PUCHONG: Malaysia’s last surviving male Sumatran rhino, Tam, breathed its last today following severe health complications.

Veterinarians, Sabah Wildlife Department and Borneo Rhino Alliance said Tam has been suffering from kidney and liver damage for some time.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said she was informed of the devastating news by the Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga earlier today.

“Regrettably, Tam died around noon today. Everything that could possibly have been done, was done, and was executed with great love and dedication.

“His last weeks involved the most intense palliative care humanly possible, rendered by the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) team under veterinarian Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin, at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu,” she said, in a statement.

According to Liew, the cause of death was related to old age and multiple organ failure but more details will be revealed after an autopsy.

Liew said that there was ‘one bright spot’, which is Tam’s living genome had been preserved for the cell culture.

 “We hope that with emerging technologies at cell and molecular level, he may yet contribute his genes to the survival of the species,” she said.

Tam was one of two remaining Sumatran rhinos in Sabah that was kept in captivity with the hopes of breeding.

However, all efforts have been proven futile.

The surviving female, Iman, suffers from a ruptured tumour in her uterus and cannot produce fertile eggs.

Tam, short for Kertam, was captured by a wildlife team in August 2008 when he was about 20-years old. Rhinos have not been seen in Sabah’s wild for years.

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