DUNGUN: Wildlife authorities have allayed the fears of villagers after two tigers were sighted at Kampung Besul Lama in Bukit Besi here.
Terengganu Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Abd Malek Mohd Yusof assured the villagers that they had nothing to worry about.
Yesterday, a video of the tigers strolling in the village went viral over social media, but what was more worrying was the sight of some villagers trying to get near the big cats.
Malek said a team of 22 Perhilitan officers and Rangers carried out a search and trap operation this morning.
He said two 24-hour monitored traps with chicken bait have also been laid around a 2km radius of the jungle, while another will be placed in the same area this evening.
At the same time, four teams comprising Perhilitan Rangers and veterinary officers equipped with tranquillisers have also joined the search.
Malek had earlier told reporters the tigers’ tame behaviour indicated that they could be someone’s pets.
Dungun police chief Baharudin Abdullah was concerned with the villagers’ apparent lack of fear and warned them not to treat the sightings as if it was some sort of festival.
“The tigers may seem tame but they are still wild animals and we are concerned about safety. If the tigers are provoked and turn aggressive, then who is to be blamed?
“As far as the police are concerned, the situation is considered unsafe as long as Perhilitan has not caught the tigers,” he said.
A number of villagers, however, are worried about the presence of the tigers.
Zulkarnain Ismail, 31, said his 26-year-old pregnant wife travels 5km daily from her workplace at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Bukit Besi, which is on the same route where the tigers were seen strolling.
He said his wife, Suzana Mustafa, had a narrow escape when she was chased by one of the tigers while on her way to work at 2pm yesterday.
“We were travelling together but on separate motorcycles. Suddenly, a tiger lunged out from the bushes and chased after her. The animal only stopped when a passing car honked,” he said.
Villager Wook Mohd Noor had a face-to-face encounter with one of the tigers. When her chickens began to cluck, Wook, 63, went out and encountered a tiger near the coop.
“It was standing still but was staring straight at me. I was surprised that it was not aggressive. It just hung around the area for almost an hour before leaving,” she said.