SWD monitoring sick rhino

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is closely monitoring a sick female Sumatran rhino known as Puntung (pix), one of three in Malaysia, which has fallen ill due to an abscess deep inside her upper jaw since five days ago.

SWD director, Augustine Tuuga said although Puntung's condition had improved since then, she still remained very ill.

According to him, the rhino was in bad condition on April 6 to 7 with low appetite and was constantly lethargic.

"Normally, she will consume about 30 kg of fresh leaves and twigs daily and on the 7th (of April), there was intermittent bleeding from her left nostril," he said in a statement, here, today.

However, on April 8, Tuuga said Puntung's condition began to show signs of improvement when the bleeding stopped and the rhino, which is being cared for at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, became more active.

He stressed that Puntung's recovery was still by no means certain, but he was cautiously optimistic.

Meanwhile, Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director, Datuk John Payne said a combination of constant attention, antibiotics, fruits and various supplements might have turned the situation around.

Borneo Rhino Sanctuary manager and rhino veterinarian Dr Zainal Zainuddin said efforts to treat Puntung's condition had been challenging due to the rhino's naturally stubborn nature.

He said the sanctuary was in frequent contact with specialist rhino veterinary surgeons in South Africa, who required to see the radiograph of Puntung's dilemma before taking the next step of action.

"We have been trying to take an X-ray for the past four days, but she is irritated, not only by her pain, but also by our attention, not least the injections.

"And intermittent heavy rain every day has converted her paddock into a big mud bath," he said. — Bernama