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The last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia has died

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Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino has died, leaving only one surviving female rhino in the country and ending the year-long breeding efforts to ensure the species' survival.

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Image Credit: Willem v Strien via Wikipedia 

The species was declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia in 2015, with hope relying on a successful breeding attempt in captivity.

Tam – the name given to the rhino after its capture 11 years agowas found wandering on an oil plantation and relocated to a reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah. He was paired with two captured females, but never successfully produced any offspring. 

The news of Tam’s death was announced a few weeks ago with WWF Malaysia stating that their “hearts are filled with sadness as we mourn not only the loss of wildlife but the loss of a species.”

 

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Today, we bid farewell to Tam, our last surviving male Sumatran rhino. Our hearts are filled with sadness as we mourn not only the loss of a wildlife but the loss of a species. With Tam gone, we now only have Iman left, our last female rhino. If we are not careful, the Sumatran rhino will not be the only species that will go extinct under our watch. Our other prized wildlife like elephants, pangolins, bantengs and clouded leopards will also likely meet the same fate if we don't protect them now. Let the loss of Tam be the wakeup call that we need to spring into action. Our wildlife needs protection now and like it or not, we are their only hope. #sumatranrhino #sabah #STCP #wildlife #conservation Photo: (c) Raymond Alfred/WWF-Malaysia

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Sumatran rhinos live for between 35 and 40 years, and rhino 'Tam’ was estimated to be around 30 years of age. The cause of death was therefore assumed to be old age but is yet to be confirmed.

The Sumatran rhino is also known as 'Dicerorhinus sumatrensis’, meaning “two-horn-nose”, which is the rhino species' most distinct feature, as it is the only two-horned rhino in the Asian region. Other features include fringed ears and reddish-brown skin, variably covered with long hair and overall being the smallest of all living rhinoceroses.

The Sumatran rhino is the most endangered of all rhinoceros species due to the rapid rate of its decline, mostly due to poaching, with worries of the possible extinction of the mammal being announced earlier this year.

Because of poaching, numbers have decreased by more than "70% over the last 20 years". The consumer-demand for rhino horn is on the rise in parts of Asia due to its claimed medicinal qualities but also for its value as a carved ornament.

Other causes for the decline in numbers are the loss of habitat due to invasive species, road construction, and encroachment for agricultural expansion.

Sumatran Rhinoceros

Image Credit: 26Isabella via Wikimedia Commons

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) , "The Sumatran rhino once roamed as far away as the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, through Myanmar, Thailand, possibly to Vietnam and China, and south through the Malay Peninsula."

'Fewer than 80 Sumatran rhinos' are now believed to be alive in small groups throughout Indonesia and Kalimantan.

The damages already suffered by the rhino, as well as the rhino's solitary nature and low birth rate, mean the species will continue to face the threat of total extinction.

Lead Image Credit: Willem v Strien via Wikipedia 




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