There are just a few hundred of them left in the wild - and now the population of critically endangered Sumatran tigers in the Indonesian jungle has suffered a blow after a magnificent animal was killed in a senseless accident.

A hunter hoping to snare a wild pig on the island of Sumatra found not a porcine bounty in his trap, but a large female Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae).

He notified conservation officials, AFP reported, who travelled to the site only to find the tiger missing. They later found her dead near a ravine, rope from the trap wrapped tightly around her middle. They suspect that this was the cause of the animals death.

As if that wasn't terrible enough, the tiger was pregnant, due to give birth to a litter of cubs in the near future.

Exact numbers are difficult to gauge, but estimates put the population of Sumatran tigers as low as under 400 individuals, with the population still in decline.

sumatran tiger adelaide zoo insetA Sumatran tiger in Adelaide Zoo (Kevin1234/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

According to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, threats to the species are primarily human, including rapid habitat loss to farming, the local illegal trade of tiger parts, and declines in the populations of its prey.

Every individual, and every cub, is therefore incredibly precious. Unfortunately, their habitat loss is also causing more conflict with humans, and loss of lives on both sides.

"Habitat destruction forces tigers into settled areas in search of food and where they are more likely to come into conflict with people," states the World Wide Fund for Nature.

"People have been killed or wounded, and livestock fall prey to tigers. Retaliatory action by villagers can result in the killing of tigers."

Under Indonesia's Conservation Act of 1990, killing a protected species such as a Sumatran tiger can incur a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of 100 million rupiah (around US$6,700).