JAKARTA, Indonesia – A string of attacks by rare Sumatran tigers has left six people dead in Indonesia in less than a month, including three mauled by at least one of the critically endangered cats this weekend, conservationists said Monday.
A father and son — illegal loggers sleeping near a pile of wood — were killed as they slept Saturday in protected forest on Sumatra island. Another man in the same area was attacked just after dusk Sunday, said Didy Wurdjanto of the state conservation agency.
The other victims were killed in late January, also in Sungai Gelam, a district 375 miles from the capital, Jakarta, but those tiger attacks all occurred near villages.
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.
Rangers and conservationists were rushing to the scene of the latest attacks to investigate.
But since the animal — or animals — had not strayed from its habitat no efforts would be made to catch and relocate the cat, said Wurdjanto.
"This time it was the loggers' fault," he said, adding that the tigress believed responsible for last month's maulings has been captured and is being taken to a national park.
About 40 people have been killed by tigers on Sumatra between 2000-2004, according to the state conservation agency, which said the trend has continued since then. New figures will be released in April.