‘LEARN FROM PUNTUNG’S PAIN’
The sad plight of Puntung, a Sumatran rhinoceros dying from cancer, should be a lesson to all
THE terminal condition faced by Puntung should be a lesson to all of the dire straits the Sumatran rhinoceros faces. Expressing his regret and sorrow over Puntung’s condition, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) Chairman Tun Musa Hitam said that those related to the conservation efforts and the world at large should reflect on the present situation.
“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,” Musa said.
Puntung, one of the three remaining Sumatran rhinoceroses in Malaysia, is suffering from a squamous cell carcinoma in her left cheek.
It is learnt that 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.
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.
As of yesterday, Puntung can no longer breathe through her left nostril nor vocalise, according to BORA executive director Dr John Payne. She is in pain and her condition is declining rapidly.
“This is devastating news for all of those who have been involved in Puntung’s life over the past 10 years, from those in SOS Rhino who monitored her living wild in the Tabin forests since 2007, and those who captured her in 2011, to those who cared for her daily and still care for her up to now,” Payne said.
He added that BORA’s staff were shocked by the very visible rapid growth in the size of the carcinoma.
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.
Tun Musa Hitam