The Daily Express, 20 April 2017
Kota Kinabalu: A life-saving operation has now given a new lease of life to Puntung, one of the two remaining female Sumatran rhinos in the country.
Puntung started feeding within two hours after the operation ended but post-operation care is still needed to ensure her environment remains clean, stress free and medication for pain relief, said Borneo Rhino Alliance veterinarian Dr Zainal Z Zainuddin. The 20-year-old rhino had suffered from an untreatable sepsis since mid-March this year.
Two molar teeth and one premolar from the rhino’s upper jaw were extracted in the operation which lasted two hours and 20 minutes at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, about 48km from Lahad Datu, Wednesday.
According to the Wildlife Department, the success was due to the assistance rendered by experts from Thailand and Singapore.
“This was a remarkable and successful operation that came about as a result of global discussion and multi-national collaboration over the last two weeks,” said the department’s Director, Augustine Tuuga, in a statement here.
Thai veterinary dentist Dr Tum Chinkangsadarn carried out the extraction and Singapore Zoo senior veterinarian Abraham Mathew aided in the anaesthetics.
South Africa-based “Saving the Survivors” group, Dr Johan Marais and Dr Zoe Glyphis, initiated the planning, procedures and provided major financial support for the operation.
Augustine said the two vets did a fantastic job despite working together for the first time to save Puntung.
“We also had department vets in attendance and to assist, as well as from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo Rhino Alliance,” he said.
The procedure began around 7am with x-ray done on Puntung which was under sedation.
Puntung was then put under general anaesthesia for 110 minutes before work on the severe calcification on large molar, where bacteria had accumulated causing an abscess, was carried out.
The calcification had also loosened two adjacent teeth.
Borneo Rhino Alliance veterinarian Dr Zainal Z Zainuddin said they were relieved over the operation, saying the specialist vets involved had given Puntung a new lease of life.
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