Death of another rhino puts pressure on breeding programme

  • Nation
  • Friday, 18 Apr 2003


PETALING JAYA: Another rhinoceros under the captive breeding programme of the Wildlife and National Parks Department in Sungai Dusun died of unknown causes on Sunday – 15 months after the death of a male rhino. 

Confirming the death of Rima, a 25-year-old female, department director-general Datuk Musa Nordin said he had not received the post-mortem report and declined to speculate on the probable causes. 

BIG LOSS: A file picture of Rima at the Sungai Dusun Forest Reserve. The enclosure was fenced up as part of an experiment in breeding the endangered Sumatran rhino.

Zoo Negara chief veterinarian Dr S. Vellayan, who carried out the post-mortem, said the animal was found slumped in its enclosure at the Rhinoceros Conservation Centre on Sunday morning. 

“Specimens of her internal organs have been sent to several laboratories in the country and we will only know the results in the next two or three weeks. Initial investigations did not find any significant cause of death,” he added. 

On Jan 19 last year, 16-year-old Shah died after supposedly recovering from a short illness, leaving Ara the remaining male to shoulder the task of propagating the highly endangered Sumatran or Lesser Two-horned rhinoceros at the centre. 

Rima was special to the programme as she was already impregnated when captured in 1987 and subsequently gave birth to her baby, later named Minah, at the centre.  

The latest development is expected to put further pressure on the programme, which has yet to produce a baby rhino since it was set up in 1984 despite numerous reports of pregnancies among the six females. The pregnancies have so far ended in miscarriages.  

In another development, Perhilitan’s Rhino Patrol Unit is preparing to capture two adult rhinoceros from Kedah next month following confirmation of sightings in a forested area encroached upon by logging activities. 

Unit officer Kadir Hashim declined to reveal the location for fear of poaching. 

“There is high possibility of hunters and poachers coming across the animals as the forest cover is being cleared away.  

“This will put the animals in danger. 

“Therefore, it has been decided that it will be best to capture them and transfer them to the centre at Sungai Dusun,” he added.  

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