KOTA KINABALU: Tam, Malaysia's last surviving male Sumatran rhino, has no more than a few weeks to live, if not days, due to old age.
Tam, who is estimated to be in his mid-30s, has shown slight improvement over the last two days, due to intensive care since the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) announced on Sunday (May 19) that it was in critical condition.
However, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said their main concern remained his age, as rhinos generally have a lifespan of 35 to 40 years old.
“I have received the following update from the veterinarian; Tam has improved slightly over the past two days as a result of intensive care.
“But the problem is age-related. We do not expect him to survive for much longer. The timeframe is likely to be in the days rather than weeks (before his demise),” said Augustine in a written text reply Tuesday (May 21).
Tam and female rhino Iman are the only two Sumatran rhinos in captivity in Malaysia.
The elusive species has been considered extinct in the wild in Malaysia, as no individuals were detected in Sabah’s wild in recent years.
However, a Sumatran rhino was reportedly captured in Indonesia’s east Kalimantan last year.
Over the years, Sabah and Malaysia authorities have been trying to engage with Indonesia in rhino preservation, with a focus on advanced reproductive technology, including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Despite claims of ongoing government-to-government talks, so far efforts have been unsuccessful, as nothing concrete has been achieved on the matter.