Malaysia: Sabah pushing for rhino breeding and conservation collaboration with Indonesia

Avila Geraldine, Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will push for a collaboration with Indonesia to set up a Sumatran rhinoceros breeding and conservation programme.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said Sabah is committed to establishing a mutual agreement to protect the endangered species.

"I am very concerned about our Sumatran rhinoceros. Sabah is now left with two of them, but our male rhinoceros Tam is now very ill.

"I had spoken to state wildlife director Augustine Tuuga and we will make a trip to Indonesia in June or July.

"We really hope to come up with some sort of consensus (on rhinoceros conservation) but I will also be looking at the conservation of other wildlife species," said Liew, who is also state tourism, culture, and environmental affairs minister.

On Indonesia’s response towards the breeding and conservation programme, Liew said Indonesia has yet to decide on the matter.

She said the trip to Indonesia speaks volumes about Sabah's commitment on the matter, adding that she hoped the meeting would bear fruit.

Meanwhile, Augustine said urine analysis tests have indicated that Tam, the last male rhinoceros in Sabah, is suffering from organ damage and poor kidney function.

“Tam is now spending most of his time lying down. Keepers and veterinarians are present round the clock.

“His food and water intake have been insufficient for several days, which is contributing to his deteriorating condition,” he said.

He added that the treatment for Tam was largely palliative, which involves relieving pain without dealing with the cause of his condition.

Sumatran rhino Tam living out his final days
kristy inus The Star 22 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Tam, Malaysia’s last surviving male Sumatran rhino, has a limited time left due to old age, says the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

While his health has improved slightly, veterinarians however, are not giving him more than a few weeks, if not days, to survive.

Tam, whose age is estimated to be in the mid-30s, has shown a slight improvement over the past two days due to intensive care being carried out on him after SWD announced on Sunday that the animal was in a critical condition.

However, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said their main concern was his age as rhinos generally have a lifespan between 35 and 40 years.

“I have received the following update from the veterinarians; Tam has improved slightly the past two days as a result of intensive care.

“But the problem is age-related. We do not expect him to survive for much longer. The time frame is likely to be in days rather than weeks (before his expected demise),” said Augustine in a written text reply yesterday.

Tam and female rhino Iman are the only two rhinos in captivity in Malaysia.

Tam was found wandering in an oil palm plantation in Kretam, Sabah in August 2008 and was thought to be in its mid-20s at the time of its capture.

Rhinos have not been seen in Sabah’s jungles for over a decade.

The elusive species is considered extinct in the wild in Malaysia as no rhinos were detected in Sabah in recent years.

However, a Sumatran rhino was reportedly captured in Indonesia’s east Kalimantan last year.

Over the years, Malaysian authorities have been trying to engage with Indonesia in rhino preservation, with a focus on advanced reproductive technology, including in-vitro fertilisation.

Despite claims of ongoing government-to-government talks, efforts have been unsuccessful so far as no official confirmation has been achieved on the matter.