The sad plight of Puntung, a Su­ma­tran rhi­noc­eros dy­ing from cancer, should be a les­son to all

New Straits Times - - News -


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

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