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Sumatran tiger kills 2 loggers in west Indonesia

A Sumatran tiger mauled two illegal loggers to death in western Indonesia, bringing to five the number of people killed by the critically endangered cats in less than a month, a conservationist said today.

The tiger attacked a 50-year-old man and his 18-year-old son early yesterday while they slept next to a pile of stolen wood in a protected forest on Sumatra island, about 375 miles (600 kilometers) west of the capital Jakarta, said Didy Wurdjanto of the state conservation agency.

Three people were killed in two separate attacks in late January in the area. Park rangers last week trapped an adult tigress believed responsible for the deaths and it was being relocated.

About 40 people have been killed by tigers on Sumatra between 2000-2004, according to the agency.

The Sumatran tiger is the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies.

Only about 250 of the cats are left in the wild, the Forestry Ministry said, compared to about 1,000 in the 1970s. The tigers' diminishing population is largely blamed on poaching and the destruction of their forest habitat for palm oil and wood pulp plantations.

In some cases the animals roam into villages or plantations in search of food, setting the stage for a conflict with humans.

In the latest attack, however, the animal had not strayed from its habitat so there would be no effort to catch and relocate it, said Wurdjanto. "This time it was the loggers' fault," he said.


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