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RM13.8m spent on rhino efforts
Published on: Thursday, June 01, 2017

Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) Chairman Tun Musa Hitam said the terminal condition faced by Puntung should be a lesson to all of the dire straits the Sumatran rhinoceros faces. "After spending so much time and funding to conserve the Sumatran rhinoceros since 2009, I regret that it has come to this.

"Let this be a lesson to all those related to the effort as well as the world at large.

"This is a very sad development. Future generations would certainly blame us for failing to save this species from extinction," he said.

Puntung, one of the three remaining Sumatran rhinoceroses in Malaysia, is suffering from a squamous cell carcinoma in her left cheek.

The cancer is spreading rapidly and Puntung will not survive much longer, even with treatment.

The State Government has authorised euthanasia on Puntung, after deliberation with experts.

It is to be carried out on June 15.

YSD had worked with the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) and the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) over the past eight years up to last February, with RM13.8 million allocated to save the Sumatran rhinoceros in Sabah, including the rescue, translocation and care of Puntung.

With Puntung's death imminent, there will only be two Sumatran rhinoceroses left in Malaysia.

Puntung can no longer breathe through her left nostril nor vocalise.

The RM13.8 million spent on conserving the Sumatran rhinoceros included funds for an artificial reproductive technology (ART) programme to help breed the Sumatran rhinoceros and help save the species from extinction.

Experts from Germany are expected to arrive soon to harvest the eggs and skin cells from Puntung.

Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga said the eggs and skin cells would enable an artificial breeding programme to be carried out in future to save the species.

The surviving Sumatran rhino population, estimated at only seve­ral dozens, still roam Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan.



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