Tam had been suffering from organ failure before his death, BORA said.
Sumatran rhinos are the world’s smallest rhinoceros species, standing at around 4 feet 3 inches high, when fully grown. They are the only Asian rhinos with two horns, and are covered in hair.
The animals are found in Indonesia, Malaysia’s Sabah state (part of the island of Borneo) and peninsular Malaysia; some are also thought to live in southern Thailand, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).
BORA describes the rhinos as “functionally extinct,” meaning that the few animals remaining are insufficient to save the species from dying out.
Tam’s death means there is only one Sumatran rhino, a female called Iman, left in Malaysia.
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) considers the creatures to be critically endangered as a result of poaching and habitat fragmentation.
Tam was captured and brought to live in Sabah’s Tabin Wildlife Reserve. It was hoped he would breed with captive female rhinos, but these hopes were dashed when it was discovered that the two female rhinos at the reserve were infertile.
Efforts to save the species in Malaysia have since focused on reproductive technology, including in vitro fertilization, but have so far proved unsuccessful.