Nov. 23 (UPI) — The last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia died Saturday in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
The rhino, a female named Iman, suffered from uterine cancer, officials said. Her death follows close on the heels of the country’s last male Sumatran rhino, who died in May.
“Iman’s death came rather sooner than we had expected, but we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain,” said Augustine Tuuga, the director of the Sabah wildlife department.
“Its death was a natural one, and the immediate cause has been categorised as shock,” Sabah State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christine Liew said.
Iman was captured in 2014 and was living on a wildlife reserve at the time of her death. Her uterine tumors were discovered at the time of her capture, and she had narrowly escaped death several times due to massive blood loss, but reserve staff were able to nurse her back to health.
Scientists say no more than 100 of Sumatran rhinos exist in the wild, and that their numbers are dwindling due to the fragmented nature of their populations, as well as poaching and habitat loss. Most remaining Sumatran rhinos live on the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Reserve staff say they hope to obtain Iman’s egg cells in the hopes of reproducing the species through artificial insemination in a partnership with the Indonesian government. Efforts to breed the rhinos in captivity have not been successful.