27 Nov 2006
Sheridan Mahavera and Sharifah Mahsinah
JELI: Tiger sightings were not uncommon near Mek Jah Ismail’s rubber smallholding, yet she continued to tap her trees as she had a bed-ridden husband to support at home.
Yesterday, her worst nightmare came true when the 65-year-old grandmother was mauled by a tiger on her daily trip to her five hectare plot on a small hill near Kampung Sungai Long here.
What saved her, according to Nor Fatimah Omar, a neighbour who had gone out together with Mek Jah and who helped her down the hill, was some ilmu (arcane knowledge) the latter had learned from her forefathers.
Nor Fatimah said Mek Jah had gone further up the hill to her plot while she stayed near the knoll’s base to tap rubber from her own trees.
At about 10am, a panic-stricken Mek Jah came running down towards her, saying that she had been attacked by a tiger.
"Her head was covered in blood and her clothes were blood-stained. Blood just kept running down the back of her head.
"I asked her how it happened and she said a tiger just lunged out of the bushes at her."
Mek Jah recounted to Nor Fatimah how she had tried to get up, but the tiger kept pouncing and knocking her to the ground.
When Mek Jah finally got on her feet after being knocked down for the fourth time, the woman recited several prayers and picked up a stick that was lying nearby.
"She hit the ground with the stick three times and this scared the animal off."
Nor Fatimah, 45, was speaking at her house in Kampung Sungai Long.
Her younger brother, Zakaria, 40, who was also at the base of the hill, took Mek Jah back to her house on his motorcycle. She was taken to the Jeli district hospital and later transferred to the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Baru.
When approached at the hospital in Kota Baru, Mek Jah was weak and could barely speak to reporters.
Besides serious injuries on her head, the woman also suffered lacerations on her neck and arm.
Mek Jah, a mother of seven, has been supporting her husband Ismail Mamat, 82, who suffered a stroke four years ago on the income derived from their smallholding.
Kelantan Wildlife deputy director Wan Azali Wan Ali said three ranger teams have been sent to the scene and are planning to trap the animal.