Two tigers attacked a Siem Reap province man on Sunday in Chikreng district’s mountainous forests, the victim said by telephone from his hospital bed Wednesday.
Family members found Say Phim, 32, in the forests of Ro’ang Mountain on Tuesday, two days after he was left badly injured and blinded during the tiger attack.
“I usually go to this forest,” Say Phim said, “but I’ve never seen a large tiger in the wild.”
The victim’s description of the tiger has some pointing their fingers at the rare Indo-Chinese tiger, but Seng Teak, country director of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, disagrees.
Being the largest tiger in Cambodia, it is unlikely the Indo-Chinese tiger would leave the man alive; it is more likely that a leopard attacked the man, Seng Teak said.
A similar attack involving a leopard occurred in Mondolkiri province three months ago, he said.
According to Say Phim, on Sunday afternoon he walked to Ro’ang Mountain from his home in Khvao commune. Accompanied by his four dogs, Say Phim said he often hunted in the forests in search of food for his wife and three children.
“I strayed a bit far from the dogs as they were barking,” Say Phim said. “Then I came over to them, and I spotted the tiger.”
With only an ax, Say Phim said he tried to defend himself as the tiger lunged. His four dogs came to his defense, but another tiger joined in the attack, and he was left to fight off one tiger as his dogs fought with the second, he said.
Say Phim said he climbed a nearby tree, but the cat took chase and pulled him to the ground where he was found two days later by relatives.
“My husband told me that when he fell out of the tree, that he thought he would be able to run away,” said Say Phim’s wife, Yeam Sarem, 29.
“He did not think the tiger would jump on top of him so forcefully,” she said.