A female tiger has strayed from the confines of India's Corbett Tiger Reserve — and she's developed a taste for human meat. The big cat, who's prowling an area spanning 80 miles, has started attacking humans because she's not able to find enough natural prey.
This past Sunday, February 9th, the tigress claimed its 10th and most recent victim — a 50-year-old man who was collecting firewood in the forest outside Kalgarh village in Uttarakhand state. She ate parts of the man's leg and abdomen before being frightened away by villagers waving shovels and metal rods. Frustratingly, hunters nearly caught the tiger the day before using a live calf as bait. But she did not attack it, and left silently.
Back on December 29th, a 65-year-old man was mauled in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh state. Since then, a state of near-panic has spread amongst the thousands of villagers in the region.
Because the tiger has been tracked across an 80-mile (130-km) expanse, and because she's resorted to attacking humans, naturalists speculate that she's not able to find enough natural prey — a problem that endemic to many of the world's predators. They also believe she's tired and likely not getting enough rest. Today, India has about 3,200 tigers left in the wild — a far cry from the 5,000 to 7,000 in the 1990s when their habitat was twice as large. Tigers are an endangered species owing to rampant poaching and shrinking habitats.
Hunters haven't been able to trap the tigress owing to the dense forests, inadequate staffing, and poor coordination, and the locals are not impressed. On Sunday, a group of angry villagers seized a national forestry office, demanding protection and compensation for the families of the dead.
"We can understand the predicament of the villagers," noted Corbett Tiger Reserve deputy director Saket Badola in an AP release. "The villagers do not have toilets in their homes. They go out in the open or forest areas to answer nature's call. In this scenario it is difficult to give protection to each and every villager. We have advised them to move in groups."
Top image: An unrelated tiger from the Corbett Tiger Reserve in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand is shown in a file photo via Corbett Tiger Reserve/AP .