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Malaysia Mourns 'Loss of a Species'

Country's last male Sumatran rhino died
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2019 2:06 AM CDT
In this photo provided by WWF Malaysia, a Borneo Sumatran male rhino, nicknamed "Tam" is seen in Borneo, Malaysia.   (AP Photo/WWF Malaysia, Stephen Hogg, HO)

(Newser) – The Sumatran rhino—the smallest and hairiest of all rhino species—once roamed all over Malaysia. Now, just one survives in the country. Tam, a male around 30 years old, has died at a wildlife reserve in Borneo, leaving Iman, a female, as the only member of the critically endangered species left in the country, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. Tam, who was captured in 2008, had been suffering from liver and kidney problems. "Our hearts are filled with sadness as we mourn not only the loss of wildlife but the loss of a species," the World Wildlife Fund Malaysia said in a Facebook post. "With Tam gone, we now only have Iman left, our last female rhino."

Malaysia's efforts to breed the rhinos through in vitro fertilization were unsuccessful. There are believed to be only 30 to 80 Sumatran rhinos remaining in the wild in small areas in Sumatra and on the Indonesian part of Borneo, which is split between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Authorities say the species, the closing living relative of the extinct woolly rhino, is under severe threat from poaching and habitat loss. Maszlee Malik, the Malaysia's education minister, said Tam's death should be a wake-up call for the country, Al Jazeera reports. " We need to protect the wildlife, the endangered species," he said. "To love is to educate." (Read more Sumatran rhino stories.)

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