A variety of wildlife species maintained in captivity are susceptible to iron storage disease (ISD), or hemochromatosis, a disease resulting from the deposition of excess iron into insoluble iron clusters in soft tissue. Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is one of the rhinoceros species that has evolutionarily adapted to a low-iron diet and is susceptible to iron overload. Hemosiderosis is reported at necropsy in many African black and Sumatran rhinoceroses but only a small number of animals reportedly die from hemochromatosis. The underlying cause and reasons for differences in susceptibility to hemochromatosis within the taxon remains unclear. Although serum ferritin concentrations have been useful in monitoring the progression of ISD in many species, there is some question regarding their value in diagnosing hemochromatosis in the Sumatran rhino. To investigate the metabolic changes during the development of hemochromatosis and possibly increase our understanding of its progression and individual susceptibility differences, the serum metabolome from a Sumatran rhinoceros was investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics. The study involved samples from female rhinoceros at the Cincinnati Zoo (n = 3), including two animals that died from liver failure caused by ISD, and the Sungai Dusun Rhinoceros Conservation Centre in Peninsular Malaysia (n = 4). Principal component analysis was performed to visually and statistically compare the metabolic profiles of the healthy animals. The results indicated that significant differences were present between the animals at the zoo and the animals in the conservation center. A comparison of the 43 serum metabolomes of three zoo rhinoceros showed two distinct groupings, healthy (n = 30) and unhealthy (n = 13). A total of eighteen altered metabolites were identified in healthy versus unhealthy samples. Results strongly suggest that NMR-based metabolomics is a valuable tool for animal health monitoring and may provide insight into the progression of this and other insidious diseases.
The progesterone (P(4)) profiles and macroscopic vulvar changes of female Malayan tapirs were investigated in order to understand their fundamental reproductive physiology and to search for visual indicators of estrus. Blood was collected once or twice a week from seven female Malayan tapirs kept at four zoos. Serum or plasma P(4) concentrations were determined by radioimmunoassay. The P(4) concentrations changed cyclically throughout the years, and a total of 56 cycles was confirmed in the seven females. The length of the estrous cycle based on the P(4) profiles was 43.6+/-2.0 days; however, this mean includes great variation in length, from 21 to 84 days. Mucous discharge from the vulva and vulvar swelling were seen when the P(4) concentrations were low before the beginning of a rise in most cases. In conclusion, captive female Malayan tapirs have variations of approximately 1 to 3 months in estrous cycle length, and visual changes in the vulva are helpful in estimating estrus in female Malayan tapirs.
The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is on the verge of extinction in Malaysia. At the Sumatran rhinoceros Conservation Centre in Sungai Dusun, the reproductive behaviour of two female and two male rhinoceroses were studied for 8-10 months during attempts to breed them in captivity. Due to the paucity of scientific information on the reproductive biology of the Sumatran rhinoceros, this study was conducted to obtain information on the reproductive behaviour of this species. The male rhino was introduced to a female rhino in the morning for 1-2 h daily in order to observe for behavioural oestrus. Observations were made on the signs of oestrus and mating behaviour. Oestrus was determined by receptivity towards the male and lasted about 24 h. Common signs of oestrus were an increase in frequency of urine spraying, tail raising or swinging, anogenital and other contacts. Although the males exhibited mounting, the inability of the male to achieve intromission was poor. The study demonstrated that the pattern of courtship and copulation of the captive Sumatran rhinos were comparable with those of other rhino species, reported previously by other scientists and flehmen reflex was also exhibited by the male Sumatran rhinos. In a captive breeding programme, it is recommended that only an oestral female is introduced into a male enclosure due to the male solitary behaviour and to avoid serious injuries inflicted onto the females.
The sequencing of ancient DNA has enabled the reconstruction of speciation, migration and admixture events for extinct taxa1. However, the irreversible post-mortem degradation2 of ancient DNA has so far limited its recovery-outside permafrost areas-to specimens that are not older than approximately 0.5 million years (Myr)3. By contrast, tandem mass spectrometry has enabled the sequencing of approximately 1.5-Myr-old collagen type I4, and suggested the presence of protein residues in fossils of the Cretaceous period5-although with limited phylogenetic use6. In the absence of molecular evidence, the speciation of several extinct species of the Early and Middle Pleistocene epoch remains contentious. Here we address the phylogenetic relationships of the Eurasian Rhinocerotidae of the Pleistocene epoch7-9, using the proteome of dental enamel from a Stephanorhinus tooth that is approximately 1.77-Myr old, recovered from the archaeological site of Dmanisi (South Caucasus, Georgia)10. Molecular phylogenetic analyses place this Stephanorhinus as a sister group to the clade formed by the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) and Merck's rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis). We show that Coelodonta evolved from an early Stephanorhinus lineage, and that this latter genus includes at least two distinct evolutionary lines. The genus Stephanorhinus is therefore currently paraphyletic, and its systematic revision is needed. We demonstrate that sequencing the proteome of Early Pleistocene dental enamel overcomes the limitations of phylogenetic inference based on ancient collagen or DNA. Our approach also provides additional information about the sex and taxonomic assignment of other specimens from Dmanisi. Our findings reveal that proteomic investigation of ancient dental enamel-which is the hardest tissue in vertebrates11, and is highly abundant in the fossil record-can push the reconstruction of molecular evolution further back into the Early Pleistocene epoch, beyond the currently known limits of ancient DNA preservation.
The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is the smallest of all the rhino species. It is one of the rarest mammals in the world and is in imminent danger of extinction. A study was carried out on seven wild-caught females, three wild-caught males and one captive born female Sumatran rhinoceros at the Sumatran Rhinoceros Breeding Centre in Sungai Dusun, Selangor, Malaysia, beginning 1990. As a result of the paucity of scientific information on the reproductive biology of the Sumatran rhinoceros, this study was conducted to obtain information, which could assist in the captive breeding of this endangered and near extinct species. The anatomy of the reproductive system was based on two post-mortem specimens and transrectal real-time ultrasonography in six adult females. Genitalia of the Sumatran rhinoceros were similar to those of other species of rhinoceroses. The cervix consisted of several folds, the uterus was bicornuate with a short body and prominent horns and the ovaries were completely covered by the fimbriated end of the fallopian tube. The internal genitalia could be imaged by ultrasonography. The testes were located within a pendulous scrotum. Two lateral projections were located at the base of the penis. A well-defined process glandis was present at the tip of the penis. The accessory sex glands and the testes could be imaged by ultrasonography.
The endangered Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) is threatened by large-scale habitat loss, forest fragmentation and increased hunting pressure. Conservation planning for this species, however, is hampered by a severe paucity of information on its ecology and population status. We present the first Asian tapir population density estimate from a camera trapping study targeting tigers in a selectively logged forest within Peninsular Malaysia using a spatially explicit capture-recapture maximum likelihood based framework. With a trap effort of 2496 nights, 17 individuals were identified corresponding to a density (standard error) estimate of 9.49 (2.55) adult tapirs/100 km(2) . Although our results include several caveats, we believe that our density estimate still serves as an important baseline to facilitate the monitoring of tapir population trends in Peninsular Malaysia. Our study also highlights the potential of extracting vital ecological and population information for other cryptic individually identifiable animals from tiger-centric studies, especially with the use of a spatially explicit capture-recapture maximum likelihood based framework.
In 2008, the IUCN threat status of the Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus) was reclassified from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered'. The latest distribution map from the IUCN Red List suggests that the tapirs' native range is becoming increasingly fragmented in Peninsular Malaysia, but distribution data collected by local researchers suggest a more extensive geographical range. Here, we compile a database of 1261 tapir occurrence records within Peninsular Malaysia, and demonstrate that this species, indeed, has a much broader geographical range than the IUCN range map suggests. However, extreme spatial and temporal bias in these records limits their utility for conservation planning. Therefore, we used maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling to elucidate the potential extent of the Asian tapir's occurrence in Peninsular Malaysia while accounting for bias in existing distribution data. Our MaxEnt model predicted that the Asian tapir has a wider geographic range than our fine-scale data and the IUCN range map both suggest. Approximately 37% of Peninsular Malaysia contains potentially suitable tapir habitats. Our results justify a revision to the Asian tapir's extent of occurrence in the IUCN Red List. Furthermore, our modeling demonstrated that selectively logged forests encompass 45% of potentially suitable tapir habitats, underscoring the importance of these habitats for the conservation of this species in Peninsular Malaysia.
The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the largest among the four tapir species and is listed as an endangered species. Ultrasound examination and description of the external anatomy of the female reproductive system of three adult females were performed, whereas the internal anatomy was investigated in necropsied samples of four adult females and one subadult female. Descriptions of the male external genitalia were conducted on one adult male. Gross examination revealed the presence of a bicornuate uterus. The uterine cervix is firm and muscular with projections towards its lumen, which is also evident on ultrasonography. The elongated and relatively small ovaries, which have a smooth surface, could not be imaged on ultrasonography, due to their anatomical position. The testes are located inside a slightly pendulous scrotum that is sparsely covered with soft, short hairs. The penis has one dorsal and two lateral penile projections just proximal to the glans penis.
The aim of this study was to determine if ferritin is a reliable biomarker of iron overload disorder (IOD) progression and hemochromatosis in the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) by developing a species-specific ferritin assay and testing historically banked samples collected from rhinos that did and did not die of hemochromatosis. Ferritin extracted from Sumatran rhino liver tissue was used to generate antibodies for the Enzyme Immunoassay. Historically banked Sumatran rhino serum samples (n = 298) obtained from six rhinos in US zoos (n = 290); five rhinos at the Sumatran Rhino Conservation Centre in Sungai Dusun, Malaysia (n = 5); and two rhinos in Sabah, Malaysia (n = 3) were analyzed for ferritin concentrations. Across all US zoo samples, serum ferritin concentrations ranged from 348 to 7,071 ng/ml, with individual means ranging from 1,267 (n = 25) to 2,604 ng/ml (n = 36). The ferritin profiles were dynamic, and all rhinos exhibited spikes in ferritin above baseline during the sampling period. The rhino with the highest mean ferritin concentration did not die of hemochromatosis and exhibited only mild hemosiderosis postmortem. A reproductive female exhibited decreases and increases in serum ferritin concurrent with pregnant and nonpregnant states, respectively. Mean (±SD) serum ferritin concentration for Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia was high (4,904 ± 4,828 ng/ml) compared to that for US zoo rhinos (1,835 ± 495 ng/ml). However, those in Sabah had lower ferritin concentrations (1,025 ± 52.7 ng/ml) compared to those in Sungai Dusun (6,456 ± 4,941 ng/ml). In conclusion, Sumatran rhino serum ferritin concentrations are dynamic, and increases often are not associated with illness or hemochromatosis. Neither a specific pattern nor the individual's overall mean ferritin concentration can be used to accurately assess IOD progression or diagnose hemochromatosis in this rhino species.