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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
Two-faced workers outwit tigers
A tiger in a national park in India
Tigers are an endangered species
Plantation workers in Malaysia worried about recent tiger attacks have probably already wished for eyes in the backs of their heads.

But now, they can have them.


Tigers have a tendency to attack from the back, but on seeing the mask the animal will think that it is being watched

Ilyah Sulaiman, wildlife officer

Forest rangers are advising plantation workers to wear realistic-looking masks on the backs of their heads to ward off tiger attacks.

Apparently, a tiger is less likely to pounce on a human if it thinks its prey is looking at it.

"Tigers have a tendency to attack from the back, but on seeing the mask the animal will think that it is being watched," Ilyah Sulaiman, a wildlife officer in Malaysia's Kedah state, told the New Straits Times newspaper.

Decreasing habitat

While the tiger population has been drastically reduced - there are as few as 500 of the animals left in the wild in Malaysia - they are still a danger.

Tigers have been known to attack workers on rubber plantations, which are often established after clearing the animals' natural jungle habitat. Usually, the animals involved are too ill to hunt their normal prey.

A woman in Kedah was killed by tiger while working on a rubber plantation two weeks ago, 500 kilometres north-east of the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The animal, a female, was tracked down and killed.

Other hints to avoid attacks include working in large groups, and making noise, perhaps by listening to a radio - both are likely to repel tigers.

See also:

03 Apr 02 | South Asia
27 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
08 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
29 Apr 02 | South Asia
29 Apr 02 | Country profiles
05 Apr 01 | South Asia
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