This Rare Tiger Died Because Villagers Thought It Was A Shapeshifter

The rare animal was attacked and killed after villagers believed that it had supernatural powers and could change shapes. Authorities are investigating.

Believe it or not, a rare tiger was killed near a remote Indonesian village out of fear the animal really was a shapeshifter.

The Sumatran tiger was killed and then disemboweled this past Sunday in Hatupangan in north Sumatra, an Indonesian island. According to reports, villagers believed the animal harnessed supernatural powers, being able to change its appearance. Afraid, they killed the animal.

But there might be more to this attack than initially reported.

According to the regional head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency, Hotmauli Sianturi, the villagers “would not listen,” even as conservation agents told locals the animal was rare and endangered.

“We explained to the villagers that the tiger is an endangered animal,” Sianturi said, adding that her agency had set up a trap for the animal, “but they didn’t like our way of handling this situation.”

“They insisted on killing the tiger,” Sianturi added. "After killing the animal, the locals hung up its body for display. It's very regrettable."

WARNING: The following tweets may contain images considered disturbing to some viewers.

The Sumatran tiger is listed as a critically endangered species.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, only 400 of these tigers are left in the wild. While tiger hunters can be arrested according to Indonesian law, WWF said that the country’s black market of tiger parts and products remains strong.

Local activists said that the tiger had injured one person prior to being captured. It had been prowling in the area for over a month when villagers finally tracked it down and killed it. Now, authorities are investigating to see where the missing canine teeth, claws, and skin were taken, adding that they want to prove the parts were sold in the black market.

"The tiger was sleeping under a resident's stilt house when the people struck him repeatedly in the abdomen with a spear," Batang Natal subdistrict official Lion Muslim Nasution said.

At least two villagers were seriously injured due to the attack against the animal.

It’s saddening to see that instead of working together with conservation agents, some of these villagers decided to give in to fear. But since parts of the animal went missing, it seems obvious that part of the motivation may have been the fact that the black market is still strong in the region.

Until an effective solution to that matter is uncovered and implemented, we should expect to continue hearing about these incidents.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Sucheta Das

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