Today is one of the saddest days we’ve ever faced. As of this morning, Puntung’s suffering has come to an end.
She was euthanized just past dawn, ending her battle against squamous cell cancer.
It was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, but euthanasia had become the only defensible option. Chemotherapy, radiation treatment and excision surgery might seem possible. But for us, her welfare was the most critical element. Any of those treatments would bring further distress to Puntung because they would cause her further pain and, at best, give her a few more months of life.
Sumatran rhinos wallow in mud for at least six hours daily and become increasingly stressed if kept in clean, closed facilities. A stress-free life for Puntung was simply not going to be possible. And so we made the very difficult choice of ending her suffering and giving her peace.
We’ll always remember her as a fighter. She survived a poacher’s attempt as a calf, when her foot was cut off. But she refused to give up and went on to survive in the forests. She then became pregnant in the wild, but tragically lost her baby. The complications of that pregnancy resulted in her having cysts in her uterus, but still she fought on… till the very end.
And that’s how we will honour her. By embracing her tenacity for life. We at BORA will not give up the fight to save the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino.
There are now only two left in Malaysia, and less than 100 in Indonesia. Puntung’s passing is the third captive Sumatran rhino death in the past 3.5 years. In this time, there has only been one birth in captivity. And with wild populations continuing to face risks, the number of deaths could dangerously continue to outpace the number of births.
This is the great tragedy that’s at our doorstep. One that we must fight. But we can’t do this alone. Humanity needs to come together, now more than ever. What we do today will define the very existence of an entire species. It will define who we are as people, a species who have the power to save the rest of life that we share this world with.
And just like Puntung, we at BORA will not give up.
Be at peace, Puntung.