Ensuring the rhinos stay alive


Chow time: Iman being fed by veterinarians at the Sabah Wildlife Department centre.

Chow time: Iman being fed by veterinarians at the Sabah Wildlife Department centre.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is hopeful that the Sumatran rhino has a chance of survival with Indonesia agreeing in principle to send a rhino semen sample.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the Indonesian government has somewhat agreed to send a sample for the Advanced Reproductive Technology programme.

He said this was agreed during the Technical Expert Meeting held in Jakarta from Oct 18 to 20 last year.

“Hopefully, the memorandum of agreement for the cooperation in Sumatran Rhinoceros Conservation between Indonesia and Malaysia will be signed soon to allow for the setting up of a joint working group,” Tunga told reporters yesterday.

According to Indonesian media, a semen spe–cimen stored at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) may be sent to Malaysia sometime this year, pending final approval.

Ministry of Environment and Forestry head of conservation Wiratno said they considered all aspects of the request by the Malaysian Government and had submitted their views to the environment minister.

“If approved, the plan would be to combine the sperm from Andalas, a captive-bred rhino at the SRS with viable eggs from Iman, Malaysia’s last known female rhino,” he said.

However, Iman would not carry the fertilised eggs, as she is still recovering from a burst uterine tumour.

Tuuga said a surrogate rhino from Indonesia would most probably carry the fertilised eggs.

“This collaboration is vital for the survival of this species,” he said.

He said although Iman was unwell, they were lucky to have harvested healthy eggs from her previously.

“We hope she recovers soon so that we can harvest more eggs,” Tuuga said.

Iman is slowly on the road to recovery.

Sumatran rhino