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Tourist climbs up tree to escape tiger


A Dutch tourist who survived a weekend tiger attack in the jungles of southwest Nepal by climbing a tree over the weekend said Monday he was lucky to be alive and will now have a story to tell when he returns home.

Gerard Van Laar, who has been travelling in Nepal since last month, said he was attacked by the tiger when he and his Nepalese guide were hiking in Bardia National Park on Saturday.

"I was super lucky to be alive. I would have been dead if it had not been for Krishna (his guide)," Laar told The Associated Press by telephone from Bardia, about 400 kilometers southwest of the capital, Kathmandu.

"All of a sudden I heard a roar and a growl, and the tiger was heading toward us at full speed," he said.

Laar was able to escape by climbing a tree but his guide was attacked and slightly injured as he ran away to draw the attention of the tiger.

The tiger returned and circled the tree while Laar tried to stay as quite as possible about six meters above from the ground. About two hours later the guide arrived back with help and they shouted and used sticks to drive away the tiger.

The guide was hospitalized for a day but Laar was not hurt.

The 33-year-old freelance engineer from Dedemsvaart, Netherlands, said he thought he would be killed until he was able to climb the tree.

Bardia in southwest Nepal is a protected national forest which is home to about 70 tigers. It is popular and receives thousands of visitors a years, but tiger attacks are rare.