- (Photo: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi)
An escaped tiger in Uttar Pradesh, India claimed its seventh victim just two weeks after getting out of its enclosure at Jim Corbett National Park. The latest victim was a woman whose body was found in a forest Tuesday, according to reports.
The tiger is a female, officials believe, and has mainly been killing for food, as it was used to a being fed in the northern India national park. Ordinarily, tigers cannot be hunted, as their averages of about 2,500 have been decreasing and they were classified as an endangered species in 2010. However, officials have now declared this tigress to be a man-eater and hired three hunters to kill it.
"A hunt has been launched to kill the tigress that has turned into a man-eater," Rupak De, a senior official, told BBC. "It must still be hungry as it has been running without rest and adequate food."
The tiger escaped from Jim Corbett National Park Dec. 29 and has been able to cover an area of about 80 miles (130 km) in that short time. The first victim was an unsuspecting 65-year-old man, whose body was found in the Sambhal district last month.
Most of the killings have taken place in the heavily forested Moradabad area, which has forced thousands of villagers to stay inside. Many schools in the southern Indian town of Ooty in Tamil Nadu have also been closed after three deaths there.
"People are terrified," Salim Luqmaan, a Moradabad official, told the Associated Press. "[Residents] have been asked not to go near forest areas alone. Three hunters have been hired to kill the tigress."
Despite the maulings, some advocate for the tiger's capture and not to kill it. Meneka Gandhi, a wildlife activist and member of India's parliament, sent a letter to the Uttar Pradesh officials urging them to reconsider their course. She believes the tiger is hunting people out of hunger, but would not harm anyone were it returned to its enclosure.
Gandhi asked that the Uttar Pradesh government capture the tigress and release it in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand, according to AP.