For five days on the Indonesian island of Sumatra last week, hunters became the hunted. A group of men were busy foraging for wood, and set out deer traps in the dense jungle, but ended up catching a tiger cub instead of deer.
The tiger cub’s death drew five tigers to the hunters’ base camp. The tigers killed one of the hunters and trapped the five survivors in a tree. The men used a cellphone to call for help, but the nearest village was six hours away. Once a small rescue team arrived, the presence of tigers at the base of the tree kept them from intervening. It wasn’t until Monday that a larger team of rescuers flew in and managed to drive the tigers away.
But if you’re feeling bad for these unfortunate hunters, you might want to think again. From the CBC:
Park manager Jamal Gawai suggests the men may have planned to sell the dead cub — known to fetch as much as $400 on the black market — to pay for celebrations associated with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The park, in Tamiang, an area bordering the north Sumatra province of Aceh is home to about 400 Sumatran tigers — the most critically endangered tiger subspecies. Their decline is attributed to habitat destruction and poaching. Last year, 10 Sumatran tigers were killed in Aceh.
The hunters have maintained that they caught the cub accidentally. But tiger skins and bones are in high demand right now, so if it was an accident, it was certainly a potentially profitable one.
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