Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Chinese Tourist Bus Attacked By Tigers

A driver in Chelmsford was attacked last week by two people armed with a handgun and knife, a cyclist committed a similar assault last year after getting angry with a driver for overtaking him, and groups of youths throw stones at passing buses with depressing regularity in some areas.

They are, thankfully, rare - but attacks on buses do happen.

But however bad it gets in Britain, it seems that driving a bus in China can be fraught with traumas of a wholly different order.

I learnt this week of a bus that was attacked in Shandong province not by restless natives and cash-hungry vagabonds… but by a pack of Bengal tigers.

The animals leapt on the bus and punctured its vehicles tyres, destroyed the windscreen and wipers, and broke other windows whilst the terrified passengers hid under their seats.

The incident took place in one of the enclosures at the Jinan Wildlife World but the driver was left helpless as the warden in charge of the enclosure was at lunch when the incident happened and it took officials 10 minutes to realise what was happening and open a gate so they could escape.

Terrified passengers tried desperately to summon help on mobiles phones which, they soon discovered, had no reception in the park.

Fortunately none of the 27 passengers were injured, but the driver's hand was hurt when the tigers jumped on the vehicle and broke the windscreen.

Apparently China has around 6,000 endangered tigers in captivity – compared to just 50 to 60 believed to be living in the wild. To conserve the species, China set up ‘tiger farms’ during the 1980’s with the intention of breeding them then releasing them into the wild.

However, the farms have recently come under the international scrutiny after conservation groups claimed that some were using the animals purely for their lucrative body parts for use in Chinese medicine.

Last year, a tour bus driver was mauled to death by a Siberian tiger at a breeding centre in the north eastern province of Heilongjiang after he got out of his bus to check on a mechanical problem.

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