Tiger attack
Image caption,

Archana Choudhary tried to fend off the attack with her bare hands

A woman in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has suffered serious injuries while fighting off a tiger to save her 15-month-old baby.

Archana Choudhary grappled with the tiger with her bare hands for a couple of minutes before villagers heard her cries for help and intervened.

Both mother and son are receiving treatment in hospital.

The attack took place on Sunday on the outskirts of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

Animal attacks on people living around the tiger reserve aren’t uncommon. Villagers BBC Hindi spoke to said apart from tigers, elephants have also been entering their villages and damaging their crops.

Across India, people living in areas close to forests and national parks have been witnessing a rise in man-animal conflicts.

Experts say this is because rapid urbanisation is destroying natural habitats, forcing animals to enter villages and towns in search of prey and shelter.

In the latest attack, the woman, Archana Choudhary, and her toddler were in a field when a tiger came out of the bushes and attacked the infant.

Archana Choudhary's son - seen here with his father
Image caption,

Her son – seen here with his father – suffered wounds to his head

The Times of India reported that the tiger had sunk its teeth into the baby’s head and was trying to pull the child away when the mother intervened and attempted to fight off the tiger. Her screams for help attracted villagers from nearby areas who reached the spot with sticks and drove away the tiger.

The mother is reported to have a punctured lung and has received deep wounds on her body while her son has wounds on his head.

A doctor told BBC Hindi that the wounds on the child’s body were not serious, but those on the mother were.

Civil surgeon Dr Misthi Ruhela in the city of Jabalpur said that the mother and child were being treated in the intensive care unit and had been given anti-rabies injections.

Meanwhile, the tiger attack has caused panic among the villagers.

A forest official told reporters that the biggest challenge for the department was to locate and capture the tiger that had strayed into the village.