Iman, the last Sumatran rhinoceros in Malaysia, died at 5.35 pm, today.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said according to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), the immediate cause of death was categorised as shock.
"Iman was given the very best care and attention ever since her capture in March 2014 right up to the moment she passed. No one could have done more.
"She was actually quite close to death when sudden massive blood loss from the uterine tumours occurred on several occasions over the past few years,” she said in a statement.
"The team at Tabin provided round-the-clock intensive support and successfully brought her back to good health and egg cell production on several occasions," she said.
The state had hoped that it would have been still possible to obtain some egg cells from Iman for the proposed Malaysia Indonesia collaboration on this species.
However, she added, there are still ways in which the two countries can usefully collaborate based on their different experiences over the past decade.
"For Sabah that includes management of female Sumatran rhinos with reproductive pathology, safe harvesting of gametes from living rhinos, and cell culture. Iman and Tam both live on as cell cultures in Malaysia," she added.
Meanwhile, in the same statement, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said Iman’s death came rather sooner than the department expected, but they knew that the Sumatran rhinoceros was starting to suffer significant pain from the growing pressure of the tumour into the bladder.