YALA – Terrified Thai villagers were on Tuesday hunting a tiger suspected of killing two people in less than a week after a woman was mauled to death in a rubber plantation near the site of an earlier attack.
Pranee Mahasuk, 43, was slashed on the face and back in front of her husband as the pair tapped rubber shortly before midnight on Monday, said Urupong Chanakul, deputy chief of Betong district in Thailand’s southern Yala province.
He said the woman’s husband had tried to help her by shooting at the big cat, but had been forced to climb a tree for safety.
“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,” Urupong told AFP.
Last week the footprints of an adult and young tiger were seen near where 44-year-old Hyaya Seng was found headless with deep scratches across his body at another plantation in Yala near the border with Malaysia.
“It is likely that the same tiger killed the victim last week,” Urupong said, adding the latest incident was 10 kilometres (six miles) away from the previous one.
He said authorities and about 200 villagers had launched a search for the tiger, adding that the aim was to push the creature further into the remote mountainous border area rather than kill it.
Thailand, a hub of international wildlife smuggling, is one of just 13 countries hosting fragile tiger populations. Fewer than 300 tigers remain in the wild in Thailand, according to wildlife group WWF.