KOTA KINABALU: Ailing Iman, Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhino, is improving but it is still not out of the woods.
As a team of Borneo Rhino Alliance veterinarians keeps a round-the-clock watch and treatment for Iman, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the rhino is building up an appetite that could be seen as a positive sign.
“She is eating more each day although it is still inadequate. She consumed 1.5kg of mixed browse (five species of foliage) in the morning and another 1.5kg on Saturday afternoon.
“We plan to feed her more browse,” he said in updating the condition of Iman, which has been sick after a uterine tumour burst and triggered heavy bleeding since Dec 14.
However, Tuuga said the rhino still suffers from vaginal discharge.
The veterinarians and carers, who will be working through Christmas, are continuously covering its body with mud as part of efforts to cool it down while preventing insect and flies from getting to her.
Tuuga said they have intravenously fed seven litres of fluids and also started antibiotics for Iman on Saturday and medication to improve her appetite.
“She has defecated and urinated,” he said, but did not clarify if it was an indication of positive recovery.
Iman was rescued in 2014 and is the last Sumatran rhino found in the jungles of Malaysia.
In June this year, another female rhino – Puntung – was put to sleep due to cancer.
Tam, the lone male rhino in captivity in Sabah, is the only other known rhino in Sabah.
Conservationists have seen no signs of the presence of the animal in the wild and have considered them extinct.
There are only about 100 Sumatrans rhinos left in the world with most of them in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan.