The Sumatran rhinoceros has become extinct in Malaysia after the last of the species in the country died of cancer, zoologists announced. The rhinoceros was in the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo.
The rhino, named Iman, was suffering from uterine tumours since her capture in March 2014. The 25-year-old female died on Saturday. Her death comes six months after the death of the country's only male rhino in Sabah in May this year.
"Iman's death came rather sooner than we had expected, but we knew that she was starting to suffer significant pain," Augustine Tuuga, the director of the Sabah wildlife department, said.
Christina Liew, Sabah environment minister added: "Despite us knowing that this would happen sooner rather than later, we are so very saddened by this news."
The Sumatran rhino, which is the smallest of the rhinoceros species, shrunk drastically due to deforestation and poaching. The WWF conservation group estimates that there are only about 80 left, mostly living in the wild in Sumatra. The species is now critically endangered. Five rhino species can be found today, two in Africa and three in Asia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's red list identifies the Sumatran and also the Black and Javan rhinoceros as being critically endangered.
Malaysia's last rhino escaped death several times over the past few years due to sudden massive blood loss. But, she was saved by wildlife officials.
Rhinoceros are killed for their horns which are sold on the black market for their supposed medical attributes. Both African and Sumatran rhinoceros have two horns. Indian and Javan rhinoceros' are single-horned.