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1 dead in suspected Indonesia tiger attack, hunt ongoing

A man has been found dead in western Indonesia after a suspected attack by a Sumatran tiger authorities were still hunting, a local official said on Saturday, the latest case of conflict between humans and the critically endangered species.

There are only several hundred tigers on the western island of Sumatra left in the wild and they are often targeted by poachers for their body parts, while rampant deforestation has significantly reduced their habitat.

A team of conservationists was deployed to search for the big cat on Saturday after the 26-year-old male victim was found dead at a plantation in Riau province on Sumatra island on Thursday afternoon with wounds indicating a tiger attack.

“Our team has left this morning [to search for the tiger]. Based on the report, the area is within the tiger habitat,” local conservation agency head Genman Suhefti Hasibuan said on Saturday.

Local police chief Budi Setiawan said late on Friday they had received a report that two workers heard their friend screaming while they were spraying weeds in an acacia plantation.

The workers tried to look for their colleague but instead found tiger footprints on the ground. They reported the incident to the plantation management, who deployed more people to search for the victim.

The victim’s body was later found with a severed right hand as well as bite wounds on his neck, Setiawan said.

In February, at least four farmers in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh were attacked by Sumatran tigers in two separate incidents.

Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 400 believed to remain in the wild.