BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – Rescuers on Monday reached five men trapped in trees by several Sumatran tigers for five days after the angry animals mauled a sixth man to death, police said.
First Lt. Surya Purba said three tamers managed to drive the tigers away before the men who were in weak condition were evacuated from trees in the protected Mount Leuser National Park in Tamiang, an Aceh district neighboring with North Sumatra province.
The men were looking for rare agarwood — used to make incense and perfume — and accidently caught a tiger cub in a trap they were using to catch deer for food, said district police chief Lt. Col. Dicky Sondani.
The incident caused five other tigers in the area to attack the men, Sondani said, citing reports from villagers who received mobile phone messages Thursday from the survivors. One of the men was mauled to death, while the five others managed to climb into trees.
The rescue team needed three days to reach the rugged area, said Sondani who was worried that the men could be weak and fall from the trees due to a lack of food.
"I received a report from rescuers that they have just evacuated the men after tamers managed to drive away the tigers," Purba said. "They are all in weak condition." He added they survived by drinking rain water.
The 28-year-old man who was mauled to death had managed to climb a tree, "but the branch broke, causing him to fall to the ground," Purba said.
There were seven tigers wandering around the trees but four left before the rescuers arrived, he said.
The rescue team of soldiers, policemen and conservationists was sent after villagers failed to reach the men because of the tigers.
Besides Sumatran tigers, Leuser park is home to other protected animals, including orangutans, elephants, rhinos and leopards.
Sumatran tigers are the most critically endangered tiger subspecies. About 400 remain, down from 1,000 in the 1970s, because of forest destruction and poaching.
Agarwood is relatively rare and is highly valued for its dark aromatic resin, which is used in incense and perfumes.