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Malaysian tiger found dead after attack on tribesman

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 (AFP) - A tiger which injured a tribesman in northern Malaysia was found dead with gunshot, spear and snare wounds inflicted before the weekend attack, a wildlife official said Monday.

Shabrina Shariff, wildlife department director in Perak state, said seven men from one of Malaysia's indigenous groups had admitted injuring the four-year-old male tiger in an attempt to trap it before Saturday's attack.

"The carcass of this lovely animal is right in front of me. I am in tears. I love tigers," Shabrina told AFP.

"We will submit a report to the prosecution for action," she said, adding that the men faced five years in jail if found guilty of trying to poach one of the world's most endangered species.

She said the tiger was the same one that injured Semai tribesman Yok Meneh, who fought off the animal armed only with a rock when he was attacked while gathering food in a forest in Perak on Saturday.

The attack left 47-year-old Yok Meneh with a deep gash on his back and injuries to his hands and legs, a local newspaper reported.

"The tiger is a reclusive animal. It would have not have attacked the man if it was not injured," Shabrina said.

She said the tiger had been caught in a wire snare but escaped as the poachers returned to kill it with a gun and spears. It was left with a serious leg wound that had become infested with maggots.

Loretta Ann Shepherd, a coordinator with the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers, called for swift action.

"It is a sad way to welcome the Year of the Tiger. The authorities should prosecute those responsible. Let it be a lesson for other poachers," she told AFP.

Conservationists last month called for a war on the poachers who are undermining Malaysia's ambitious goal to double its population of wild tigers to 1,000.

With 2010 declared the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese zodiac, experts fear there will be a surge in tiger poaching.

In the 1950s, there were as many as 3,000 tigers in Malaysia but their numbers fell as the country opened up more land for agriculture.

MySinchew 2010.02.08


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