A tiger has killed its 10th human victim in a month while evading hunters on its trail in northern India, forest officials said.
The female tiger was outside its normal territory and prowling near villages on the border between the northern Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, said Saket Badola, deputy director of the Jim Corbett National Park.
The big cat mauled a 50-year-old man as he was collecting firewood near the village of Kalgarh, Badola said. The animal ate parts of the man's leg and abdomen before being scared away by villagers waving shovels and metal rods.
Meanwhile, three hunters hired to kill the animal were having trouble tracking its pug marks in dense forests.
Wildlife officials believe the tiger strayed into forests beyond Corbett, India's oldest national park, which was established in 1936 to provide endangered Bengal tigers with safe territory.
"The animal has started attacking humans because it is not getting its natural prey. The tigress must be tired because it is not getting adequate rest," said Rupek De, chief wildlife warden of Uttar Pradesh.
India's wild tigers are considered endangered thanks to rampant poaching and shrinking habitat as India undergoes breakneck development to accommodate the staggering growth of its 1.2 billion population.
India today has more than half of the 3,200 tigers estimated to be left in the wild. Despite dozens of tiger reserves across the country, however, the numbers have sunk from an estimated 5,000-7,000 in the 1990s, when the big cats' habitat was twice as large.