As the extinction crisis grows, more species leave the world and are added to the ‘Extinct’ list.
Imam was the last Sumatran rhino left in Malaysia, and now she’s gone as well. This means that the Sumatran rhino is officially extinct in Malaysia.
It is estimated that there are around 30 to 80 Sumatran rhinos left which means that the species is closer to extinction than ever.
She was 25 years old when she died of cancer last Saturday in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
The director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Augustine Tuuga stated: “Iman’s death came rather sooner than we had expected, but we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain.”
After she was captured back in 2014, her species declared in Malaysia as extinct in the wild. She was transferred to a wildlife reserve where she was taken care of till she passed away.
The Culture and Environment Minister Christine Liew said: “Its death was a natural one, and the immediate cause has been categorised as shock. She continued, “Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed.”
Imam with Christina Liew
As the last surviving male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia, Tam died last year. There are still a few Sumatran rhinos living in other places, mostly in Indonesia, but the species’ future doesn’t seem bright.
Tam was found in an oil palm plantation back in 2008 and was taken to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Wildlife practice leader for WWF International, Margaret Kinnaird told National Geographic back then: “Tam’s death underscores how critically important the collaborative efforts driving the Sumatran Rhino Rescue project are.” She added: “We’ve got to capture those remaining, isolated rhinos in Kalimantan and Sumatra and do our best to encourage them to make babies.”
Before Tam’s death, experts tried to breed him with two females, including a rhino named Puntang, who was euthanized two years ago due to cancer and Imam, but sadly, the efforts were unsuccessful.
“We hung so much hope on Tam to produce offspring in captivity, but that hope was dashed when the remaining two females at Tabin were unable to carry fetuses,” Kinnaird added.
In accordance with the BBC, the species’ biggest threat is the ‘fragmented nature of their populations’, as the last Sumatran rhinos are mostly spread around Indonesia.