A crab hunter suffered multiple injuries when a Royal Bengal tiger attacked him while he and two others were inside a creek in Belifeli jungle on Monday evening.
The trio said they had permission for fishing but a senior forester said the spot where the attack happened was a tiger habitat, out of bounds for people.
Laxminder Sanfui, 51, a resident of the Deulbari area of Kultali’s Debipur gram panchayat, suffered head injuries. The others on the boat, his brother Soumitra and neighbour Ibrahim Sheikh, rescued him by “fighting hard” with the tiger. Laxminder was rushed to Joynagar Rural Hospital in the Kultali block late on Monday. Owing to continuous bleeding, he was shifted to the Chittaranjan National Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Sources in Kultali said Laxminder, Soumitra and Ibrahim, who had left Deulbari on Monday morning to catch crabs, were taking rest in the evening after anchoring the boat in the middle of the creek when the tiger swam to them and attacked them.
“The tiger leaped on our boat and attacked Laxminder and mauled him with his paws. It tried to drag him away. We fought hard with it and succeeded in driving it away,” said Soumitra.
The trio claimed they had “valid permission” for fishing from the Kultali beat office. They said the attack was unexpected because tigers were normally not seen on that stretch.
DFO (south) Milankanti Mandal, however, said: “The team had a permit for fishing only in the jurisdiction of South 24-Parganas. But they sneaked inside areas of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.”
All recent incidents of attacks by tigers have occurred inside the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, Mandal said. “Tigers do not enter human habitats. They always defend their territory and attack anyone who sneaks into their area of dominance. People should realise it.”An official of the reserve said that attacks on human beings by tigers tended to spike during the winter.
“During winters, tigers come out of the mangrove and roam close to creeks unlike in the summer. During this time, we check our nylon netting and fencing so that they do not come out into villages. It appears that the tiger noticed his prey – the unprotected crab hunters — and attacked them,” the official said.