BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) – A group of Indonesian men who spent four days trapped up a tree by Sumatran tigers were rescued Monday when wildlife experts induced the snarling creatures to leave, police said.
The five were dehydrated, hungry and terrified following their ordeal which began Thursday when they sought refuge in the forest canopy after an attack by the tigers, which left a sixth man dead.
They were hunting for rare wood used to make incense, but provoked the ire of the critically endangered animals when they accidentally killed a tiger cub in a trap set to catch antelopes and deer for food.
A team of 30 rescuers, including police and soldiers, reached the men deep in the jungle in the north of Sumatra island Sunday -- to find the ravenous tigers still circling the tree.
They did not dare approach, so called in three local animal tamers.
"The rescue team stood back while the tamers approached the animals and chanted some mantras," district police chief Dicky Sondani told AFP.
"The tigers eventually just left."
He said that by the time the rescuers arrived, the men "were very scared. They were also dehydrated and felt faint from not eating".
They survived by drinking rainwater, he added.
The men, who had entered the Mount Leuser National Park on Tuesday last week, were now on their way back home and would reach their village in Aceh province late Monday, Sondani said.
The case is the latest example of animal-human conflict in Sumatra, where rampant logging has caused the numbers of some endangered species to dwindle dramatically.
The Sumatran tiger is the world's smallest tiger. There are only an estimated 400 to 500 still alive in the wild.
The greater Leuser ecosystem is also home to around 5,800 of the remaining 6,600 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans as well as elephants and tigers.