A Scots tourist is believed to have been eaten by a shark off the island of Reunion after forensic scientists found his hand inside the animal.

The holidaymaker's severed hand complete with the wedding ring of the swimmer was found by scientists on Wednesday as autopsies were carried out on five fish caught around the waters of the French overseas territory.

It is understood the shark was killed because he was considered a threat to holidaymakers.

It is believed the hand belonged to a 44-year-old man from Scotland who had been holidaying on the island with his wife.

READ MORE: Surfer saved from shark attack thanks to warning from drone

There are frequent shark attacks around Reunion, which is in the Indian Ocean, some 500 miles from Madagascar.

An investigating source reportedly said: "It is feared that the hand belonged to a tourist who was reported missing on Saturday afternoon by his wife.

"The tourist and his wife were spending a week on the island and he had gone out swimming in the Hermitage Lagoon, off Saint-Gilles, alone on Saturday.

READ MORE: Surfer saved from shark attack thanks to warning from drone

"When he did not get back, his wife sounded the alarm, and a full search was launched, involving boats and a helicopter.

"Divers searched around a coral reef in the area, and there were also patrols on land involving sniffer dogs. Sadly, the man could not be found."

Tiger sharks have a record second only to Great White sharks for attacks on humans, but it may be that the man drowned and his corpse attracted the fish.