About 200 forest officials and dozens of armed policemen are in hot pursuit of her. They are thrashing around Chandrapur’s Nagbhid jungles, about a 1,000 km northeast of Mumbai.
She, in turn, is stalking humans: seven killed on last count.
Rekindling the man-eater folklore with the legendary stealth of her species, a tigress has terrorised villagers of Sonapur, Tadoli, Dhamangaon and Kacchepar — villages where dusk has become anxious bedtime and attendance in schools is thinning.
The death warrant is out for the tigress. State wildlife warden B Majumder issued an order on Tuesday to shoot her dead after angry villagers smashed a forest department vehicle.
Chief conservator of forests, wildlife, Nand Kishore said the department’s priority would be to tranquilise the animal. “It will be killed as a last option.”
With large parts of the forest stripped down for timber, human greed has tragically backfired. Environmentalists say this prompts tigers to attack humans. In turn, villagers poison the animals’ waterholes. A tiger was poisoned last year in nearby Tadoba.
The forest team, headed by range forest officer Kishore Mishrikotkar is camping in Sonapur. The man-eater had not been sighted since Tuesday when it killed a wild boar, said RS Yadav, conservator of forests, North Chanda circle. He admitted that in October alone, the tigress mauled three to death near Tadoli. She is the most lethal and elusive of the five big cats that attack locals, say foresters.