Two white tiger cubs have mauled their keeper to death at a wildlife national park in southern India, an official said on Sunday.
Anji, 40, was killed late Saturday at Bannerghatta Biological Park on the outskirts of Bangalore when the two cubs attacked him as he herded them into their enclosure, park chief Santosh Kumar told AFP.
“The victim was assisting the caretaker in pushing the cats into their enclosure for the night when they turned around and pounced on him as one of the four gates was not shut and latched by then,” Kumar said.
The tigers were eventually driven off by park staff but the victim was already dead.
“The felines did not allow the caretaker to retrieve Anji’s body from the spot and were guarding it, which delayed in rushing him to a nearby hospital,” Kumar said.
Anji, who goes by one name, was a daily wage worker and was hired by the national park earlier this month to fill in for a staff member.
Angry relatives protested outside the park on Sunday and demanded 500,000 rupees ($7,640) compensation from authorities, accusing them of negligence.
Two years ago a keeper was injured by lions in the park, according to the Press Trust of India, quoting Kumar.
The 1,346-acre (545 hectare) Bannerghatta National Park houses 1,941 animals including Bengal tigers, lions and leopards, according to its website.
White tigers, regarded as an endangered species, are found in southern and eastern Asia, particularly India, and owe their colour to a recessive gene.
India is home to half the world’s tiger population with some 2,226 of the big cats roaming its reserves, according to the last official count in 2014.