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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Brave wife 'fends off' big tiger
Bengal tiger
The tiger population in the region is coming under pressure for space
A woman in Bangladesh armed only with an oar from her rowing boat fended off a Royal Bengal tiger which was attacking her husband, police say.

The lucky escape happened near the Sundarbans mangrove forest in the south-west of the country.

Eighteen-year-old Nazma Akhter and her husband Anwarul Islam, 25, were fishing for shrimp on Sunday in a canal on the fringes of the Sundarbans.

Tigers kill about 20 people a year in Bangladesh, mostly in the Sundarbans.

'Courage'

Police chief ASM Zahid said the tiger bit the man on the knee and was dragging him off into the forest when his wife set about the big cat with her oar.

"This woman is extraordinarily courageous, because she alone fought the tiger and saved her husband," he told the BBC.

"I salute her for her courage."

Mr Zahid said that Ms Akhter kept the tiger at bay for 10 minutes.

Local newspapers reported that such was the beating it received from the paddle that it was forced to beat a retreat into the forest.

Mr Islam is reported to be recovering from minor injuries following the attack.

Police and forest officials said the incident comes after two fatal attacks on women in the Sundarbans area last week.

'Aggressive'

Tigers are believed by experts to be killing more people in the Sundarbans in recent years as pressure on their territory grows because of human encroachment.

Some scientists argue that they may also have become more aggressive because of the high salt content in water of the area which affects their mental stability.

The mangrove forest - which stretches across the border into the Indian state of West Bengal - covers an area of 5,800 square kilometres (3,590 square miles).

It is the largest mangrove forest in the world.

The majority of tiger victims are fishermen, woodcutters and honey hunters.

In the wild, Bengal tigers - one of the largest and most numerous of the tiger sub-species - are pure carnivores and hunt medium-sized animals, such as rabbits, badgers, water buffaloes, deer and goats.

They are sometimes also known to hunt domestic cattle.

A Bengal tiger will usually drag its kill to a safe place to eat.

They are able to consume up to about 40 pounds (18.18 kg) of meat at a time and then go without eating for days.


SEE ALSO
Bangladesh launches tiger census
26 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Bengal tigers to be counted
14 Jan 04 |  South Asia
Zoo to release tigers and lions
28 May 03 |  South Asia
Sweet thrills of Bangladesh jungle
16 Apr 03 |  South Asia
Tigers kill 22 in Bangladesh
03 Apr 02 |  South Asia
New hope for Bengal tigers
17 Dec 01 |  South Asia

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