A holy man uttering a special chant succeeded today in calming a group of snarling tigers that had chased five men up a tree, leaving them trapped there for nearly five days.As the holy man uttered his mantra – a mind-calming chant that originates in ancient India – the tigers turned tail and slipped back into the Indonesian jungle, allowing the desperate men to come down from their precarious perch in the branches.
During the long days and nights they had been trapped there, the tigers, which had already killed and eaten a sixth member of their group, prowled around the base of the tree waiting for a chance to grab one or more of the men.
The animals had chased the men – who had gone into the jungle in the Mount Leuser National Park early last week to look for a special wood that is used to make incense – after they had unwittingly killed a tiger cub in a trap that had been set to catch deer.Finding the cub dying from its injuries, the pack of tigers gave chase after the men and caught one, named only as David. He was quickly torn apart and half his body consumed.
The men, from Simpang Kiri village in Aceh, northern Sumatra, had gone into the dense forest in search of agar wood, which is very rare, expensive and used in the production of incense and aromatic oils. Just 1lb of agar wood can fetch up to £175, resulting in villagers risking their lives to enter the jungles of the Gunung Leuser National Park where tigers and dangerous elephants roam.
Yesterday Police Chief Dicky Sondani explained why officers had been powerless to intervene.
‘We can’t go rushing in to rescue the men in the tree because of the remoteness and because of the tigers still being there at the base of the tree,’ he said. He told the Jakarta Globe that villagers enter the jungle to look for the pricey wood but they were risking their lives doing so. The group were attacked by tigers on Thursday after they caught and killed a tiger cub in a snare meant to catch a deer.
‘Nearby tigers drawn to the scene of the fatally injured cub pounced on the men and killed 28-year-old David as the five others climbed a tree to safety.’
Resident of Simpang Kiri village learned of the men’s fate because not only were they carrying mobile phones, they had also managed to get a signal, enabling them to call for help. But as rescuers from the village neared the tree they saw David’s partially eaten remains and four large tigers – and fled.
But police said they had little choice but to plan the rescue carefully and that would take some time. The tigers would have to be shot with anaesthetising darts due to their endangered numbers. Conservationists said they had no doubt that the tigers chased the men seeking revenge for killing the cub.
More than 100 Sumatran tigers are believed to roam the forests of the Gunung Leuser National Park. But there are fears their numbers will dramatically drop as the rainforest shrinks and palm oil plantations take their place. Looking for food, tigers are more frequently entering villages and there have been a number of attacks on humans.