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Man-eating tiger attacks, drags fisherman off his boat while children watch

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What appears to be an attack of a man-eating tiger occurrred in eastern India Thursday when a massive Bengal tiger jumped aboard a fishing boat and dragged a fisherman into the water, then pulled him away into a nearby mangrove swamp.

The Associated Press recounted (via Yahoo News) June 27 that the son of Sushil Manjhi reported his father missing after a tiger attacked him on his boat. The son said he witnessed the incident with his sister. They saw the massive beast jump from the water and latch onto their father's neck, pulling him overboard.

The son, Jyotish Manjhi, told authorities he and his sister attempted to stop the attack, beating the tiger with sticks. But their blows landed to no avail. The tiger simply hauled their father away.

He said the large Bengal tiger "quickly flung my father on his back and gave a giant leap before disappearing into the forest."

The father is presumed dead.

Jyotish reported the incident by telephone from the West Bengal village of Lahiripur.

Manjhi and his son and daughter had been fishing for crabs in Sunderbans National Park. Although it is illegal to fish in the the park, it is often done by many of Indias teeming poor who find that money can be made from the crabs, a commodity that can be profitably sold in nearby markets.

Unfortunately for the desperate local fishermen, the Sunderbans happens to be one of India's largest reserves for the Bengal tiger as well.

There have been four deaths due to tiger attacks in the Sunderbans National Park this year thus far, park officials admitted.

Attacks by tigers have been on the rise in India in recent years, mostly due to growing human populations and the corresponding shrinkage of wild areas for the big roaming cats. India is home to about half of the world's remaining estimated 3,200 tigers. They are a protected species that have nearly been hunted to extinction, their organs and bones becoming much in demand in China and a lucrative trade for poachers.

But Sunderbans four deaths pale in comparison to the man-eating tiger loose in Uttarkhand state since December. In that northern Indian state, one tiger, an escapee of Jim Corbett National Park, is believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least ten people.

A January report by BBC News noted that less than 85 people were killed or injured by tigers each year, a number that would assuredly be far higher given India's 1.2 billion population if tigers were more prone to be man-eaters.

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