Villagers in a remote village in northern Indonesia brutally killed an endangered Sumatran tiger to determine if the animal was a mythological shapeshifter.
Locals in northern Sumatra’s Hatorangan village disemboweled the tiger and put it on display by hanging it from a ceiling, where dozens of villagers gathered to see the endangered animal.
On Monday, conservation officials said that the Sumatran tiger was slain on Sunday after it attacked one or two residents. The villagers then followed the animal to its lair to determine whether it was a supernatural creature.
“The tiger was sleeping under a resident’s stilt house when the people struck him repeatedly in the abdomen with a spear,” Lion Muslim Nasution, an official from the Batang Natal sub-district said.
Nasution said that the villagers were aware of the tiger’s endangered status, however, they feared that a shapeshifter took hold of its body and was prowling through their village.
Officials said that they had warned the locals of the animal and advised them not to kill it, however, the villagers ignored them and prevented the officials from intervening.
According to local media sources, the villagers thought that the tiger was a “siluman”, or shapeshifter. Upon hearing that the officials refused to kill it, the locals decided to do it themselves.
When inspecting the slain animal, authorities found missing canine teeth, claws, and skin off its face and tail. All these body parts are said to be used in medicine or sold on the black market.
Pantera tigris sumatrae aka the Sumatran tiger, is a critically endangered species, listed as such by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are an estimated 400 to 500 Sumatran tigers remaining in their natural habitats of the forests of Sumatra. According to the organization, their dwindling numbers are due to “habitat loss” from human expansion, “human-tiger conflict” and “illegal trade”.
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