KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department welcomes the news of the Indonesian government agreeing to send the semen of a Sumatran rhinoceros for its Advanced Reproductive Technology programme, said director Augustine Tuuga.
"This has been agreed during the Technical Expert Meeting between Indonesia and Malaysia, held in October last year in Jakarta.
"Hopefully the Memorandum of Agreement for the cooperation in Sumatran rhinoceros conservation between the Indonesian and Malaysian governments will be signed soon to allow for the establishment of a joint working group," he said in a statement, adding that the agreement will also pave the way for the full implementation of the cooperation.
Augustine was responding to a report by an online portal a quoting senior official of Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry, hinting that the sperm of Andalas, their captive-bred rhinoceros, might be sent to Malaysia this year.
The plan is to fertilise Andalas' sperm with viable egg of Malaysia's only female rhino, Iman, who is being kept at Tabin Wildlife in Lahad Datu under the care of Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA).
If the fertilisation takes place, the embryo will be sent back and implanted in one of the female rhinoceros at the Indonesian sanctuary.
Meanwhile, BORA head John Payne was quoted as sharing the same sentiment as Augustine on the plan that could boost rhinoceros births.
He had said that there is an increased urgency to step up the captive-breeding programme for the species.
The country lost another female rhino, Puntung, last year in June due to skin cancer. Iman is currently suffering from uterus cancer since last month and has shown slow recovery.