Malaysia: Rhino Puntung showing improvement, but authorities aren't celebrating yet

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 10 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is not in the mood to celebrate just yet, although its critically-ill Sumatran rhino, Puntung, is showing signs of improvement.

Puntung, one of only three Sumatran rhinos left in Malaysia, had suffered from a potentially dangerous abscess on her upper jaw two weeks ago.

Her condition reportedly showed signs of improvement over the weekend.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Puntung had shown worsening symptoms of loss of appetite, intermittent bleeding from her left nostril and very passive behaviour on Thursday and Friday.

“Normally, she wo consume about 30 kilograms of fresh leaves and twigs daily.

“She ate very little over those two days, and spent most of the daytime lethargic in her wallow,” he said in a statement, adding that they had thought there was no hope left when intermittent bleeding was spotted on her left nostril.

On Saturday, Puntung became more active and the bleeding also stopped.

Augustine, however, said the department remains cautious on her condition despite the recovery signs.

The abscess poses grave concerns as the infection could cause sepsis and eventually death.

The loss of Puntung, would prove to be a catastrophic loss to the future of the species as at 25-years-old, she still has a few years of egg production left to be used for in-vitro fertilisation.

Puntung, along with female rhino, Iman, and male, Kertam, are being cared for by non-governmental organisation Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu.

Bora Executive Director Datuk Dr John Payne said a combination of constant attention, antibiotics, fruits and various supplements may have turned Puntung's situation around.

Meanwhile, the sanctuary's manager and veterinarian Dr Zainal Zainuddin said Puntung’s stubborn nature had made their job of treating her more difficult.

“We have been trying to take an X-ray for the past four days but she is irritated not only by pain but by our attention, not least the injections.

“We are in frequent contact with specialist rhino veterinary surgeons in South Africa, but they need to see the radiograph before we can decide how to proceed.”


S. African rhino specialists sought to save ailing Puntung
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 10 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah veterinarians are seeking the help of South African rhino specialists to save Puntung, one of the three surviving Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia.

“We are in frequent contact with specialist rhino veterinary surgeons in South Africa, but they need to see her radiograph before deciding how to proceed,” Sabah Rhino sanctuary manager Dr Zainal Zainuddin said on Monday.

He said that Puntung was stubborn by nature and it has been difficult to X-ray her for further analysis of the abscess in her jaw.

“Whenever we try to get an X-ray, Puntung becomes irritated from the pain and injections as well as the attention focused on her,” he added.

Dr Zainal said heavy rain over the past four days did not help the situation, as Puntung’s paddock had become a big mud pool.

Puntung remains very ill from an abscess deep inside her upper jaw, but is showing signs of improvement.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Puntung’s recovery is by no means certain but he is cautiously optimistic.

“We are ready for any development and any outcome,” he said.

After the initial alert over her condition on April 5, it was found that Puntung suffered considerably over next two days.

“Normally, she will consume about 30kg of fresh leaves and twigs daily. She ate very little over those two days, and spent most of the day lethargic. There was intermittent bleeding from her left nostril. We really thought there was no hope,” Tuuga said, adding that the bleeding stopped on Saturday and she became more active.

Datuk Junaidi Payne, the executive director of Borneo Rhino Alliance – the non-governmental organisation tasked with caring for the rhinos at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve – said a combination of constant attention as well as antibiotics, fruits and supplements might have turned the situation around.


Vets struggling to treat rhino
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 11 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Veterinarians are seeking the help of South African rhino specialists to save ailing Puntung – one of the last three surviving Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia – which is suffering from an abscess deep inside her upper jaw.

But first, the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary has to obtain a radiograph of her and she has not been cooperating.

“Whenever we try to get her X-rayed, Puntung becomes irritated because of the pain and injections, as well as the attention focused on her,” the sanctuary’s manager Dr Zainal Zainuddin said.

He added that the rhino specialists in South Africa need to see the image to analyse the abscess before they decide how to proceed.

Heavy downpour over the past four days did not help with the situation as well when rain converted Puntung’s enclosed paddock into a big muddy pool.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Puntung’s recovery is by no means certain but he was cautiously optimistic.

“We are ready for any new development, and any outcome,” he said.

Puntung’s condition was made public on Wednesday, and she suffered further for the next two days before getting better.

“Normally, she consumes about 30kg of fresh leaves and twigs daily but she ate very little over those two days, and was mostly lethargic in her wallow.

“There was intermittent bleeding from her left nostril. We really thought there was no more hope,” Tuuga said, adding that Puntung eventually became more active and the bleeding stopped by Saturday.

Datuk John Payne, executive director of Borneo Rhino Alliance, the non-governmental organisation tasked with managing the rhinos at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, said a combination of constant attention, antibiotics, fruits and various supplements might have helped.

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