KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's last surviving male Sumatran rhino died yesterday in the eastern Borneo state of Sabah, according to local daily The Star.
Tam the rhino had been receiving intensive care for more than a week for what was suspected to be age-related liver and kidney problems, Mr John Payne, executive director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance, told dpa. Tam was estimated to have been at least in his mid-30s. He was thought to be at least 20 years old when he was found wandering in an oil palm plantation in Sabah in 2008 before being rescued by the wildlife authorities and placed in a protected reserve.
The average life expectancy of a Sumatran rhino ranges from 35 to 40 years.
Tam's demise leaves just one surviving female rhino, Iman, in Malaysia, The Star reported.
Sabah's Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment, Ms Christina Liew, said Tam was given the "most intense palliative care humanly possible" and that one "bright spot" was that his living genome has been preserved, the Malay Mail reported.
"We hope that with emerging technologies at cell and molecular levels, he may yet contribute his genes to the survival of the species," Ms Liew was quoted as saying.
"Our hearts are filled with sadness as we mourn the loss of a species," tweeted the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia. "Let the loss of Tam be the wake-up call. Our wildlife needs protection."
The Sumatran rhino is considered a critically endangered species as a result of poaching for its horns for traditional medicine, and illegal encroachment into key rhino habitats, according to the WWF.