Real life of Pi

Real life of Pi
Fisherman Zhang Mingyu filmed a video on his mobile phone of the tiger (above).

A fisherman had his own Life of Pi moment when a wild Siberian tiger tried to get into his boat on the Ussuri River in north-east China's Heilongjiang province.

Mr Zhang Mingyu, from Fuyuan county, saw something swimming in the river on the morning on June 11.

He was making a delivery to the Sanjiang Nature Reserve.

"At first, I thought it was a deer. Then it suddenly turned round, roared at me and tried to grab the side of my boat," Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted the 32-year-old as saying.


He was so scared, he jumped from the bow to the stern.

Mr Zhang said: "The black and orange stripes on its head were very clear - it was a tiger!"

He said he struggled to fend it off and stop it climbing aboard.

But he also tried to avoid harming it as the tiger is one of China's most protected animals.

To avoid harming it, he used a rod to gently prod the animal back into the water, Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post reported. But the animal swam to the other side of the boat and tried to climb on again.

After several rounds of trying to clamber on to the vessel, with Mr Zhang repeatedly pushing it off, the tiger eventually gave up and swam towards the riverbank.

Mr Zhang recorded a 10-minute video on his mobile phone of the tiger swimming in the river until it went ashore, leaving clear footprints in the sand.

His experience with it calls to mind scenes from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's 2012 movie Life of Pi.

In the movie, a young man encounters a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat after a shipwreck. The movie is adapted from Canadian author Yann Martel's fiction novel of the same name.

According to Sanjiang Nature Reserve's press officer Wu Zhifu, the video was sent to the Feline Research Centre of the State Forestry Administration.

The reserve sent a team into the field and it found many signs of a tiger in the vicinity.

The video and footprints indicated a healthy wild Siberian tiger.

Sanjiang is one of only three black earth wetland reserves in the world.

The wetland has a well-preserved primitive ecological system with little human involvement. In recent years, tiger tracks have often been found in the reserve.

Said Mr Wu: "The reserve has become a paradise for the rare beast."

This article was first published on June 20, 2014.
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