JAKARTA – Indonesian police were investigating on Wednesday the death of a Sumatran tiger in the hands of a group of villagers to determine if it was related to trafficking of organs of this endangered species.
Residents of the Hatupangan village claim they killed the animal in self-defense, according Hotmauli Sianturi, director of the Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA) for North Sumatra where the incident took place.
“There is a suspicion of illegal trafficking, but the police will have to prove it,” Sianturi told EFE, adding that so far no arrests have been made.
The police chief of Mandailing Natal district, Martri Sonny, told EFE that they have confiscated the tiger’s organs.
Hatupangan residents in the same district had reportedly spotted the tiger in February, organized a hunting party, and on Feb. 16 the tiger had wounded two hunters.
The villagers believed a supernatural entity had taken the form of the tiger and refused to believe BKSDA officials when they came to the village to explain the protected status of the Sumatran tiger.
On March 4, the villagers had attacked the tiger while it was sleeping in a house in Hatupangan and local policemen shot it and hung the corpse from the roof of the town hall, said BKSDA in a statement.
A subsequent autopsy revealed that the claws, fangs, skin of the tail and its face were missing, all such parts that are in demand for the manufacture of traditional medicine or ornaments.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that there are between 400-500 specimens of the Sumatran tiger left in the world.
Indonesia is one of the richest countries in terms of biodiversity with hundreds of species threatened by industrial and agricultural development, including the orangutans and rhinoceros of Sumatra and Java.