A fisherman was grabbed from his boat by a Bengal tiger as he and his children were crab fishing in a creek in eastern India on Thursday, according to the man’s son.
Sushil Manjhi and his son and daughter were fishing in the Sundarbans National Park when the tiger jumped from the shore and clamped its jaw around Manjhi’s neck, his son Jyotish said, according to The Associated Press via the New York Post.
“[The tiger] quickly flung my father on his back and gave a giant leap before disappearing into the forest,” said Jyotish, who lives in a village called Lahirpur in West Bengal state.
“Shortly after we reached the spot, around 7am, we got a whiff of a strange odour. We immediately decided to turn back to a safer zone,” Jyotish told The Times of India.
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They paddled towards a less dense area when the tiger pounced.
“Suddenly, my sister cried out: ‘Dada, bagh (tiger).’ I was stunned, and my body froze,” he told the newspaper. “All I saw a flash of yellow. It took me a moment to register the gruesome sight before me. My father was completely buried under the beast.”
Though he and his sister hit the tiger with sticks and a knife in an attempt to get it to release the man, the animal dragged him away into a mangrove swamp and was presumed dead.
Even though the protected reserve is off limits, many villagers like Sushil continue to fish for crabs to sell at nearby markets. But the attack underlines the risk millions of poor Indians take when scavenging in the territory of wild predators.
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The Sunderbans is one of the largest reserves for the royal Bengal tiger. Thursday’s attack was the fourth deadly tiger assault this year in the national park, according to wildlife officials.
About 500 royal Bengal tigers roam the Sunderbans — a network of estuaries, tidal rivers and creeks spread over roughly 3,860 square miles, about three-fifths of which is in Bangladesh, the International Business Times reports, citing the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Bengal tigers are mostly found in India, but smaller populations live in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
There are fewer than 2,500 tigers believed to be left in the wild.