In a recent poll of Americans by Public Policy Polling, 26% of respondents said that they would like to have a tiger as an exotic pet. If the poll happened today, though, that number may drop in light of recent events in Sumatra. Five men were surrounded by tigers and stranded in a tree for five days. The men were rescued Monday from their perch in Gunung Leuser National Park on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
The men were forced to take to the trees after they accidentally trapped and killed a tiger cub in the national park located in the northern part of Sumatra last Tuesday. They had entered the park in the hopes of harvesting agarwood, a valuable and rare wood used to make incense. During their trek, the men had laid traps for deer and antelope for food, but a tiger cub was caught and killed instead. The adult tigers responded to the death by attacking the men, forcing them to flee up a tree. One man was killed when his branch broke.
Villagers attempted to rescue the five remaining men, after receiving undoubtedly urgent cell phone calls from them, but turned back for reinforcements after seeing “at least four large Sumatran tigers,” according to the BBC. Dozens of rescuers, including local police, were called in, but the rescue team needed three days to reach the rugged area, according to district police chief Lt. Col. Dicky Sondani speaking to the AP. The group was eventually able to drive the tigers away so that the men could come down. The survivors were transported to the nearest village, a trek that normally takes six hours on foot.
The Leuser National Park is home to most of the planet’s remaining Sumatran tiger population, estimated at 400. Besides Sumatran tigers, Leuser park is home to other protected animals, including elephants, rhinos, leopards and around 5,800 of the remaining 6,600 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. The site is threatened by commercial logging and clear cutting for palm oil plantations.