NEW DELHI: An Indian mother fought off a tiger with her bare hands to save her toddler from its jaws, an official said on Wednesday.

Archana Choudhary step­ped out of her house in Madhya Pradesh state at night as the 15-month-old boy wanted to relieve himself.

A tiger believed to have strayed from the nearby Bandhavgarh reserve poun­ced on them, local official Sanjeev Shrivastava said. It attacked and tried to sink its teeth into the child’s head, but the mother leapt to the rescue, he said.

The tiger kept trying to snatch the boy until villagers heard her screams and rush­­ed to her rescue. The tiger then slunk away into the forest.

“She has been admitted to hospital. She is out of danger and recovering. The baby is also doing fine,” Shrivastava said.

The mother suffered pun­ct­­ured lungs and wounds to her abdomen while the toddler had deep gashes on his head.

The Times of India said a search operation was underway to push the tiger back to its territory and that villagers had been told to stay indoors at night.

A rise in human-animal conflicts has been seen across South Asia as ever more forest is lost to urban expansion. Nearly 225 people were killed in tiger attacks between 2014 and 2019 in India.

More than 200 tigers were killed by poachers or electrocution between 2012 and 2018. India is home to around 70 per cent of the world’s tigers and the tiger population was est­i­mated at 2,967 in 2018.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2022

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