Any wild animal that is up to 10 feet in length and reaches a body weight of 650 pounds is capable of inspiring awe in a human being, but one tiger in Thailand is creating panic and terror among the villagers in southern Yala province. The jungle cat has already killed two people including a local woman who was mauled to death last night on a rubber plantation near the site of the first attack.
On Monday, Pranee Mahasuk, 43, was slashed by the rampaging animal in front of her husband while the couple was harvested rubber after midnight. According to Urupong Chanakul, deputy chief of Betong district, the husband attempted to save his wife by firing a rifle at the tiger, but he was forced to seek shelter in a tree after missing with his shot.
“He spent the whole night up the tree. He said the tiger came back to eat his wife after he shot at it, so he fired at it again and it ran off. It is likely that the same tiger killed the victim last week.”
Earlier in the week, the footprints of an adult and a young tiger were found by the body of 44-year-old Hyaya Seng about six kilometers from the location of last night’s killing. The attack took place on another rubber plantation in the district. The man was decapitated and suffered deep claw marks over much of his body.
Workers tap rubber late at night to avoid the heat of the day, and this adds to the danger. Tigers often prefer to hunt at night when the dark gives them an advantage. Because the tiger is considered endangered in Thailand, with less than 300 cats remaining in the wild, authorities have decided not to kill the cat, at least for the present.
Local police have mobilized a force of armed deputies and about 200 villagers in an attempt to drive the tiger deeper into the jungle as far away from populated areas as possible. It remains to be seen if this will be an effective solution, as the tiger now knows where there is an easy source of food. Sadly, more often than not, when tigers begin to hunt man, it becomes a habit and they end up being destroyed.