The last male Sumatran rhino, Tam, has died in Malaysia, a huge set-back for the country that was trying to save the critically endangered species. The species is now extinct in Malaysia, reports National Geographic.
Tam was first discovered in 2008 in an oil palm plantation, after which he was captured and transferred to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the state of Sabah. Tam died at age 30 after suffering from kidney and liver problems for a while.
Before his death, efforts were made to breed him with Puntung and Iman, two other female rhinos captured in 2011 and 2014, respectively. These efforts proved unsuccessful. Puntung was euthanized in 2017 because of cancer and only Iman survives now.
How the Sumatran rhino went extinct in Malaysia
WWF Malaysia tweeted about the death of Tam, offering their condolences. The tweet read, “Our hearts are filled with sadness as we mourn the loss of a species. With Tam gone, we now have only Iman left, our last female rhino. Let the loss of Tam be the wake-up call. Our wildlife needs protection.”
In 2015, Malaysia officially declared the Sumatran rhino extinct in the wild. Ever since, authorities have been working with Indonesian officials to help Iman, the only surviving member of the subspecies, breed through in-vitro fertilisation.
Sumatran rhinos, who were once alive in huge numbers, roamed through Thailand and Myanmar all the way to the foothills of the Himalayas. Over time, the population reduced to no more than 80 animals; these were restricted to the densely-forested pockets of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo.
The main cause for the extinction of one of the world’s smallest and oldest rhinos has been habitat loss. Over time, as forests were converted into roads and agricultural plantations, the animals were brought to the brink of extinction.