Expert from Berlin to come to Sabah for rhino IVF programme
KOTA KI NA BALU: A wildlife reproduction expert from Berlin will be coming to Sabah next month to assist in the egg extraction process from Iman, Malaysia’s sole surviving female Sumatran rhinoceros.Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liewsaid this is part of the artificial (non-natural) breeding programme that had been agreed upon for collaboration with the Indonesian government. Professor Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research is expected to conduct the procedure at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, where Iman is currently housed. The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister had visited Iman herself on Sunday (Aug 18) to see the 23-year-old rhino’s condition and whether she is medically fit for in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF is a medical procedure where an egg is fertilised by sperm inside a test tube or elsewhere outside the body, after which the resulting embryo is implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother, in this case, a surrogate rhino mother. “I am happy to see Iman eating well and having a good appetite. She is recovering after going through an intensive regimen of medical treatment and feeding. “Although she cannot bear any offspring, she is still producing eggs so there is hope for IVF. Iman’s eggs will be harvested to be fertilised in a special lab in Indonesia. “The Indonesian Rhino Foundation will assist in getting the sperm needed, ” she said in a statement issued on Monday (Aug 19). Earlier on August 9, the governments of Indonesia and Sabah-Malaysia agreed in principle to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of the Sumatran Rhinoceros in Indonesia next month. Iman who was captured at Danum Valley in 2014, was translocated to the reserve and kept at BRS after it was completed by the Sabah Wildlife Department last year. Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Sabah, operates the sanctuary for the SWD. BORA executive director Datuk Dr John Payne, when briefing Liew, said Iman now weighs 530kg and was treated for growth of non-malignant tumours in her uterus, where there are risks of bleeding from the tumours. "Last December, Iman suffered a ruptured tumour in her uterus, leading to massive bleeding. As a result, we had to postpone the IVF procedure then,"he added. To read the full story and other premium content Read more: The Star
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