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Endangered tiger endangers men
( 2003-09-22 08:01) (China Daily)

 A Siberian tiger was under siege Sunday night in Antu County in Northeast China' Jilin Province after escaping from a local tiger park Saturday afternoon.

A Siberian tiger in a zoo in Northeast China. [newsphoto.com.cn/photo]

The big cat leaped out of the park's 4-metre-high wire mesh fence at about 3 pm on Saturday, through a pine tree, and attacked a man who was plucking pine nuts outside, said Liu Yonglai, a senior official from local forestry police office.

The victim, Jiang Fengbo, was sent to local hospital immediately. The doctor in charge said Jiang's neck was broken, but his condition was stabilized, according to Xinhua.

"We sent out a team to deal with the incident right after somebody call 110," said Liu.

In an interview with China Daily, Liu said the tiger did not run away but lingered around the park after its escape.

"The tiger is man-raised so it is unlikely for him to run into the virgin forest," said Chen Weili, an officer from the local forestry police.

About 50 police officers were engaged to search for the animal, and at one point fired guns and injured the big cat.

Yet it managed to slip away and was not spotted again until early Sunday morning when it was surrounded.

"We are waiting for orders from higher-ups as to whether to kill or catch him alive since Siberian tigers are an endangered species," said Liu, noting life in the county was almost back to normal.

The wild Siberian tiger, mainly found in provinces of Northeast China, Russia's Far East and on the Korea Peninsula, is listed as one of the world's top 10 endangered wildlife species, with no more than 400 thought to be left alive in the wild. The number of wild Siberian tigers left in China is thought to be less than 20.

"We have put some cattle and sheep along the path to the park to try to lure it into the cage," said Liu. "It would be perfect if we can settle this peacefully."

"We have figured out where he is now. But any indiscretion could cause a loss as he is such a big animal - more than 350 kilograms," said Chen. "We will wait for the right time."

Chen added that he remains very hopeful there is a chance to solve the crisis without killing the big cat.

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