A tigress prowling villages in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand killed its 10th victim in six weeks, a day after eluding a trap set by hunters with a live calf as bait.
The tigress is believed to have strayed into the villages from Jim Corbett National Park, India's oldest national park established in 1936 to provide endangered Bengal tigers with safe territory. It is on prowl across an area spanning 130 kilometres.
The big cat's latest victim was a 50-year-old man who was collecting firewood on Sunday night in the forest outside Kalgarh village in Uttarakhand, said Saket Badola, deputy director of the park.
The animal ate parts of the man's leg and abdomen before being scared away by villagers waving shovels and metal rods.
"On Saturday night the tigress almost fell in trap and was close to the calf," Badola said. "But she did not attack the bait and left silently."
Since December 29, when a 65-year-old man was mauled in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh, thousands of terrified villagers have been told to watch out for the animal and to avoid the forests.
"The animal has started attacking humans because it is not getting its natural prey," said Rupek De, chief wildlife warden of Uttar Pradesh.
"The tigress must be tired because it is not getting adequate rest."
He said the hunters hired to kill the animal were having trouble tracking it in dense forests. Besides, only three of the six hunters showed up for work, De said.
On Sunday, angry villagers seized a forestry office, demanding protection and compensation for the families of the dead.
"Villagers go out in the open or forest areas to answer nature's call. We have advised them to move in groups," De said.