Brighter days ahead for Puntung


KOTA KINABALU: It will take several more months for Sumatran rhino Puntung to fully recover following surgery to remove a severe abscess in her left jaw.

The adult female, one the last three remaining Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia, was reported to have shown good progress under full-time intensive care by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

Although there were concerns that the swelling on her left cheek would hinder her ability to eat, Puntung had apparently adapted by chewing leaves on the right side of her mouth.

“She is doing well, vocalising a lot, and eating between 25 and 30 kilogrammes of leaves daily,” said SWD Director Augustine Tuuga, who added that the rhino had gained four kilogrammes since the surgery.

The team in charge of Puntung’s care did however meet with some challenges in her treatment, such as the rhino’s tendency to rub her open wound on the metal posts and wooden walls of her enclosure.

This necessitated the use of various antibiotics to prevent potential infection, said the department’s veterinarian Dr Zainal Z. Zainuddin.

“Furthermore, the wound is flushed with antiseptic twice daily but this is a difficult task as we can’t get the rinse deep enough – she won’t allow it.”

“Still, prognosis is good. However, it will still require several more months before she is 100 per cent recovered,” he said in a press statement.

Puntung had been suffering from an abscess on the upper left side of her jaw before it was removed on April 19.

The two-and-a-half hour operation by a global team of veterinary experts ended with a sigh of relief as Puntung, one of the remaining survivors of a critically-endangered species, continues on her road to recovery.