Dying rare rhino put down

PETALING JAYA: Puntung, one of the few surviving Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia, was put down via euthanisation after suffering from the squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

The female rhinoceros was euthanised at Tabun Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu this morning.

Sabah Wildlife Department Augustine Tuuga said the euthanasia procedure had to be made earlier from the slated June 15 date to put an end to Puntung's suffering.

Puntung, one of the three Sumatran rhinoceros left in Sabah, gained international attention last month after enduring dental surgery by a multinational team at the wildlife reserve.

Tuuga had earlier confirmed that Puntung was actually suffering from the skin cancer and not tooth infection as earlier suspected.

"The cancer has been spreading rapidly over the past few weeks. Specialists from several countries concur that it will be fatal with or without treatment.

"As of today, Puntung could no longer breathe through her left nostril, she can no longer vocalise, she was in pain and her condition was declining fast," he was reported as saying previously.

"Other than administering painkillers, there is nothing more anyone can do and we are left with no other recourse except to agree with professional medical advice and accordingly, we have authourised euthanasia," he added.