A resident of Pungkat Village in the Gaung District of Riau Province defied the odds by surviving a Sumatran tiger attack on Saturday, although he still suffered serious injuries.
According to the local police, Mardian, 31, was out in the afternoon with two of his friends, Bujang and Nahar, collecting wood near the village. Out of nowhere, with Bujang and Nahar’s backs to him, Mardian screamed for help as a large tiger leapt out from the woods and attacked Mardian, pinning him down with its teeth and claws.
Bujang tried to help Mardian by throwing sticks at the beast, while Nahar went to get help.
“Not long after Nahar came back with Edi. At the time Mardian was still pinned down by the tiger and had bite wounds on the right side of his back and on his head,” Gaung Police Chief Walsum told the media, as quoted by Tribun.
According to Edi, Mardian pretended to be dead while he was still at the mercy of the tiger. The tiger then dropped Mardian on the ground and stood by him, as if protecting its prey from Edi, Nahar and Bujang, who at this point were wielding machetes while trying to shoo away the tiger.
“[Mardian] was lying down, the tiger was next to him. We shooed it, but it didn’t step back very far while it bared its teeth,” Edi said.
Eventually, the tiger backed up enough and Edi and Bujang picked up Mardian and carried him to safety. During the rescue, the tiger managed to slash Bujang in his chest with its claw, but it was not a fatal wound.
Mardian was taken to a local hospital and is reportedly showing signs that he’ll make a full recovery from the deep bite wounds, one of which almost tore off his left ear.
Wildlife conservation authorities in the province have set out to find the tiger to capture it to prevent more potential harm to humans. Local police have urged residents of Pungkat Village to remain calm and not to collect wood near the spot where Mardian was attacked while also reminding them not to attack the tiger in retaliation as Sumatran tigers are an endangered species that’s protected by law.
Human-animal conflicts are common across the vast Indonesian archipelago, especially in areas where the clearing of rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations is destroying animals’ habitats and bringing them into closer contact with people.
The Sumatran tiger was responsible for at least two fatal attacks on humans on the island last year, both of whom were killed in Riau Province. Also last year, locals from Hatupangan village in North Sumatra disemboweled a Sumatran tiger and then hung the big cat from a ceiling after it attacked a pair of villagers.
Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered by protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with 400 to 500 remaining in the wild.
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