Malaysia: Time's running out but no progress from Indonesia on rhino conservation cooperation - Bora

Kristy Inus New Straits Times 2 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: There has been a lot of talk about possible collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia over rhinoceros conservation but it appears there hasn’t been much change.

Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne said not much progress has been made despite news reports from Indonesia a few months ago that both countries will continue to pursue collaborations in the conservation of the elusive species.

Sabah currently has two rhinos in captivity under the care of a team under BORA - a female named 'Iman' and an old bull called 'Kertam' or 'Tam'.

Since Tam has a low sperm count, there is an increased urgency to step up the captive-breeding programme for the species.

Experts here were relying on their Indonesian counterparts to assist in obtaining sperms from the bulls there to perform an artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

“(However) Indonesia has somehow gone silent on this and does not engage.

“There seems to be no interest on their side,” he told NSTP, referring to Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry.

On the current condition of Iman and Tam, Payne said both animals "are healthy although ageing."

Late last year, the carers had a scare when Iman nearly died from a life-threatening situation, after suffering from a uterus tumour, a condition quite rampant among female rhinos.

Iman was captured in 2014, while Tam in 2008. Their estimated age are around 25 and 35 years old respectively.

“Iman’s bleeding is under control. She has not had any oocytes (germ cells involved in reproduction) harvested so far in 2018.

“We want to do IVF using sperm from Andalas or Harapan, the male rhinos in Indonesia’s Sumatran rhino sanctuary in Way Kambas.

“But after numerous appeals from the national and state governments here and from BORA, as well as sympathetic colleagues in Indonesia, there is still no response from the Environment and Forestry Ministry there.

“It is a big slap in the face to Malaysia and seemingly no understanding of the situation and the dire urgency,” he said.