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10 APRIL 2024

Monday, September 30, 2019

Egg cell harvest may help save Sumatran rhino

The experts during their painstaking efforts to recover the egg cell from Iman at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.
KOTA KINABALU: Efforts to save Malaysia’s Sumatran rhinoceros from extinction may bear fruit after experts managed to harvest an egg cell from Iman, the last of the species in the country.
An oocyte (egg cell) was successfully recovered from Iman at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah’s east coast Lahad Datu district this morning.
The cell was later taken to the Reproductive Innovation Centre for Wildlife and Livestock at the Faculty of Sustainable Agriculture, Universiti Malaysia Sabah in Sandakan.
The extraction was performed by Prof Thomas Hildebrandt and his team from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with the local Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) team.
Prof Arief Boediono, of the Bogor Agriculture University in Indonesia, was involved in the preparation and maturation of the oocyte.
Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga could not be happier with the latest development following the death of Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino, known as Tam, due to renal failure last May.
“This is great news. It would have been even nicer with more oocytes but this does allow us to continue with the programme to try to make in-vitro embryos of this critically endangered species,” Tuuga said.
He said Arief will be using sperm from Tam,which had been frozen, for the in-vitro fertilisation attempt.
Bora executive director Dr Payne Junaidi said this could be the remaining hope of saving the species.
“There are simply not enough wild Sumatran rhinos left alive to save the species.
“Advanced reproductive technology can ensure that the living genomes of those rhinos are kept alive long after their deaths.
“This attempt in Sabah is great but we hope it is not a wasted opportunity. If Indonesia had agreed to provide fresh semen from one of their three young males, the chance of success would have been greater,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew had said in June that she would be leading talks to revive the conservation effort of the Sumatran rhino between Malaysia and Indonesia.
There were discussions previously but no decisions were made. - FMT

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