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And the Tigers Come at Night

West Bali Villagers on Alert for Tiger Attacks on an Island Where Tigers Thought to be Long Extinct.

(8/9/2010) Residents of the community of Dauh Siong at Lumbung Kauh village near Tabanan, West Bali, are becoming increasingly gripped by fear following the still-to-be-confirmed news of a tiger attack.

The possibility of a tiger attack in Bali is viewed with some incredulity in light of the belief that the last Bali tiger was shot in Sumbar Kima, west Bali in 1937. The smallest of all eight subspecies of tigers, the Bali Tiger (Panthera tigris balica) weighed between 90-100 kilograms with a length of approximately 2 meters.

Fears that tigers may once again be on the prowl in Bali's west have been fed by the savage mutilation of several dogs and a goat. Adding credence to reports is the eye witness account of local villager, I Made Pariawan Mardika (37), from the Dauh Siong community who told Beritabali.com that he saw a tiger attack his dog on Wednesday, August 4, 2010. He described the tiger as being about 1 meter tall and weighing 70 kilograms.

The man told the press how he was cutting grass to feed his livestock in a location some 200 meters from his home at 9:00 a.m. when his dogs, who always accompanies him, suddenly disappeared. At 11:00 a.m. he returned to the field, calling out his dog's name. As he walked he heard a yelping dog which led him to a clearing where what described as a "red-orange tiger with yellow accents and black stripes" was biting the hind quarter of his dog.

The farmer's description meshes to some degree with records of the Bali tiger which was said to have short hair that was of a deep orange color with darker, fewer stripes than other tiger species.

Confronted by a tiger having a meal, Mardika said, "I was face to face with that tiger for around one minute; I couldn't scream, I was so scared."

The tiger reportedly abandoned the dog and walked into the protected jungle area of Tukad Balian Patok Nagasari.

The terrified farmers did not pursue the animal and returned to his home where, he confesses, memories of the sighting still disturb his sleep.

Later, that same day, the farmer's dog returned home bearing bite wounds and patches of missing fur. The farmer said the dog now refuses to follow him outside the family compound.

In a separate but potentially related incident, a goat owned by Made Sumadi (37) of neighboring Banjar Nagasari, who discovered dead in a ravine with bites to its neck and hind quarters.

Some have speculated that the tiger sightings may be the result of the unconfirmed release of once captive cats some years ago into West Bali by Bali's Conservation Society (KSDA).

Village authorities are advising local villagers to exercise caution and travel in pairs when visiting forested areas and their agricultural fields. The chief of the West Selemadeg police precinct, I Nyoman Suarnata, has sent officers to the area and contacted the Bali Safari Park in Gianyar for technical advice and assistance.

In a related story, officers of the Bali Conservation Agency (KSDA) deployed field staff accompanied by forestry officials on Sunday, August 8, 2010, to search for the mysterious tigers in wooded lands around Lumbung Kauh village in West Selemadeg.

Selemadeg precinct police commander, I Nyoman Suarnta, confirmed that searches were conducted in the communities of Dauh Siong and Nagasari with officers from his jurisdiction also participating.

Disappointingly, efforts to find further evidence of the tigers proved unsuccessful.