Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino has died, leaving just one of the rhinos, a captive female, in the entire country.
Wildlife experts in the country captured the male, nicknamed Kretam, or Tam for short, in 2008
Tam lived more than 10 years in Malaysia’s Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Borneo and had several unsuccessful breeding attempts with two female Sumatran rhinos.
The loss of the rhino is a severe blow to the survival of the critically endangered species. As many as 800 Sumatran rhinos lived in the wild as recently as 1986, but now fewer than 100 remain, with some estimates as low as 30, according to Save the Rhino, a London-based charity that works to protect rhinoceroses.
Hopes rest on a last-ditch attempt to bring together male and female rhinos, which are naturally solitary animals, for breeding purposes.
Experts believe that as few as 20 unrelated individuals could provide enough genetic diversity to save the species from extinction.
The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of the rhino species, weighing just over 960 kilograms.
The Sumatran rhino once roamed from the foothills of the Himalayas in Bhutan and north-eastern India, through southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula, and onto the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.