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Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino has cancer

Prognosis comes six months after another the other female rhino was euthanised after suffering from skin cancer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 4:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 4:32pm

By Olivia Miwil

Malaysia’s last surviving female Sumatran rhinoceros, Iman, has finally emerged from her mud wallow at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, and is now receiving treatment.

Iman had been diagnosed with a tumour in her uterus last week. Since then, she had been camped out in her wallow, hampering any chances of her caregivers to extend medical aid.

Sabah Wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga believes that the wallow had served as her ‘comfort zone’ to ease the pain of her cancer.

“The wallow is apparently is her comfort zone. She charges at anyone who comes close.

“And each time she does that (charge), she would bleed profusely from her tumours,” he said in a statement.

Augustine said experts have managed to administer her with steroids on two consecutive days to reduce the inflammation.

The pain has also affected Iman’s appetite and hydration status.

Yesterday, Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) veterinarians managed to coax Iman out and immediately closed off the wallow with black shade netting and sand bags.

Augustine said Iman appeared pale and dehydrated as she had not been drinking water for the past four days.

“We got her to come into her night stall and she took in a lot of water mixed with vitamins and minerals.

“But she is still refusing to eat foliage hung inside her night stall,” he said, adding that additional water, drugs and supplements are being given intravenously.

Her hard stools were also removed twice yesterday and today.

Augustine said Iman’s prognosis is not good as there is still bleeding from the uterus.

Iman’s constipation is also worsening the condition when she tries to defecate or lie down.

Rectal and ultrasound tests will be carried out tomorrow.

“We are also uncertain if she has a compacted colon or caecum, in which case would add to her grave prognosis.”

Iman was the last wild rhino found in Malaysia. She was captured in the Danum Valley and transported to the wildlife reserve in March 2014.

Despite being diagnosed with severe fibroids in the uterus, she still produced eggs for previous in-vitro fertilisation attempts.

The country lost another female rhino, Puntung, about six months ago.

Puntung was euthanised on June 4 after suffering from skin cancer.

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