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Sumatran tiger mauls two men to death

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 yesterday.

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

Three people were killed in two separate attacks late last month in the same area. Park rangers last week trapped an adult tigress believed responsible for those deaths. The animal was being relocated.

The Sumatran tiger is the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies. Only about 250 remain in the wild, Indonesian Forestry Ministry said, compared to about 1,000 in the 1970s.

The tigers' diminishing population is blamed largely 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 will be no effort to catch and relocate it, Wurdjanto said. "This time it was the loggers' fault," he said.

About 40 people were killed by tigers on Sumatra between 2000 and 2004, according to the state conservation agency.

It added that the trend has continued since then. New figures are to be released in April.


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