A rare Sumatran tiger was speared to death by locals at a rural Indonesian village despite warnings from authorities to leave it alone.

Residents from the remote jungle community of Hatupangan in North Sumatra discovered the animal sleeping underneath the stilts of a residents' home when they attacked and killed it.

Images from March 4 shows how dozens of residents crowded into a community hall where they hung the animal up for display.

It is not clear why the villagers hunted the predator but it is thought they became concerned after numerous sightings around the area. Residents became concerned the that the animal was a 'siluman' (shape-shifter) according to the Jakarta Post.

On Sunday, residents followed the creature back to its lair where it lashed out and seriously injured two people. Locals were warned to leave the animal alone by government authorities but they insisted on killing the endangered animal.

"We had talked to them, even involving the National Army [TNI] officers, but they still won't listen to us," said Hotmauli Sianturi, the head of the region's animal conservation agency.

We explained to the villagers that the tiger is an endangered animal... but they didn't like our way of handling this situation. After killing the animal, the locals hung up its body for display. It's very regrettable," she said.

Only 600 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild and recorded numbers have been falling dramatically in recent years.

The Nature Communication Journal estimated that there were 618 adults in 2012, down nearly 20 percent from the 742 recorded figure in 2000.

In 2015, a zoo keeper was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger in Wroclaw, Poland, during routine cleaning of an enclosure. The keeper, who had been working there for over 20 years, was apparently killed after he forgot to lock the door to the separate area correctly.