Malaysia’s Last Sumatran Rhino Dies

by : Cameron Frew on : 23 Nov 2019 19:02
Malaysia's Last Sumatran Rhino DiesBorneo Rhino Alliance/YouTube

Malaysia’s last Sumatran rhino has died, making the species extinct in the country. 

The last-known living creature, a 25-year-old female named Iman, passed away on Saturday, November 23, in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, after battling cancer.


Iman had been suffering from uterine tumours ever since she was captured in March 2014. It was only in May this year that Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino also died – efforts to breed the species have so far proved unsuccessful.

Rhino Extinct 2Borneo Rhino Alliance/YouTube

The Sumatran rhino was once a prolific animal across Asia. However, with fewer than 100 animals believed to exist and following its extinction in Malaysia, the species is now critically endangered.

Augustine Tuuga, director of the Sabah wildlife department, told The Guardian


Iman’s death came rather sooner than we had expected, but we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain.

Sabah’s environment minister Christina Liew added: ‘Despite us knowing that this would happen sooner rather than later, we are so very saddened by this news.’

Iman had come close to death several times over the past five years due to immense blood loss. However, each time she started to slip away, wildlife officials nursed her back to health.

As per BBC News, Liew added: 


Its death was a natural one, and the immediate cause has been categorised as shock. Iman was given the very best care and attention since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed.

The smallest of the rhinoceros species, the World Wildlife Fund estimates that there are only around 80 left across the globe, with most living in the wild in Sumatra.

Rhino Extinct 3Borneo Rhino Alliance/YouTube

According to conservation group International Rhino Foundation, the Sumatran rhino’s nature means they’re more isolated and unlikely to breed – meaning they may go extinct within the next few decades.


The Sumatran rhino (along with the Black and Javan species) are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list as being critically endangered. African and Sumatran rhinoceros have two horns, while Indian and Javan rhinoceros have a single horn.

Rhinos’ horns are sold on the black market due to their alleged medical benefits. Although they are made primarily of keratin – the same material that makes up hair and fingernails – the horns are ground up and swallowed, used as treatments for fevers or convulsions.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, endangered animals, extinct, Extinction, Malaysia, wildlife


The Guardian and 1 other
  1. The Guardian

    Sumatran rhinoceros now extinct in Malaysia, say zoologists

  2. BBC

    Malaysia's last known Sumatran rhino dies