The man who manages the national park in Sumatra that is home to 400 of the world’s most endangered tigers says a group of men trapped for days up trees may have intended to sell a dead tiger cub on the black market.

The five men say they accidentally caught and killed a Sumatran tiger cub in a trap intended for deer while foraging for rare agarwood  — used to make incense and perfume  — according to district police chief Lt. Col. Dicky Sondani.

After returning with the cub to their basecamp in Indonesia’s Mount Leuser National Park, the men were attacked by five tigers. One of the men was mauled to death, while the five others managed to climb into trees.

The men were rescued after spending five days in the jungle canopy in an effort involving a group of 60 police officers, villagers and so-called tiger tamers, who managed to lure the tigers back into the jungle.

It’s unusual that more than one tiger would come looking for them. "Usually just a mother would come", said Gawai in an interview the CBC’s Laura Lynch.

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The Sumatran tiger's decline is attributed to habitat destruction and poaching. Here, a truckload of tree trunks is transported to a mill near Banda Aceh on Indonesia's island of Sumatra. (Romeo Gacad/Getty)

The Aceh region of Sumatra is predominantly Muslim. Park manager Jamal Gawai suggests the men may have planned to sell the dead cub — known to fetch as much as $400 on the black market —  to pay for celebrations associated with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  

The park, in Tamiang, an area bordering the north Sumatra province of Aceh is home to about 400 Sumatran tigers — the most critically endangered tiger subspecies. Their decline is attributed to habitat destruction and poaching. Last year, 10 Sumatran tigers were killed in Aceh.