A Pursat man’s reported encounter with a tiger in the Cardamom Mountains has left him injured and in fear, but it has left experts in doubt.
On Sunday afternoon, Ngem Nget, a 51-year-old farmer in Phnom Kravanh district’s Santre commune, walked into the woods to forage for traditional medicine and other supplies, accompanied by his nephew Det Pheara, 31.
After the two split off, Pheara heard his uncle shrieking.
“Help me, the tiger is going to eat me,” Pheara recalled hearing his uncle scream. “When I heard that, I ran to him and saw the tiger was biting his legs, and he fell on the ground.”
In an interview with the Post yesterday, Nget said the sight of the large cat stunned him. When he tried to run away, the animal chased and pounced on him, scratching and biting him.
“I … used my machete to attack that tiger until it left us and went to the forest,” Pheara said.
Nget was sent to a local clinic for treatment of his injuries. Photos Nget provided to the Post show him with stitches on his head and bandages on his arms, right leg and left shoulder.
But Bunra Seng, country director at Conservation International, who works in the Cardamom Mountains, said the animal Nget says attacked him was more likely a clouded leopard.
“There are a lot [of] clouded leopard cats in that area,” Seng said in a text message yesterday. Images of many have been caught by hidden cameras in the mountains over the years.
By contrast, the last image of a tiger in Cambodia was captured in 2007 by a hidden camera in Mondulkiri province. The last physical evidence of tigers in that area dates to 2010, WWF Cambodia spokesman Tep Asnarith said yesterday.
If the animal that attacked Nget was a tiger, it would be the first attack in the area in nearly 30 years, said Santre commune’s police chief, Kruoch Non. The last tiger attack there occurred in 1987, Non said.