Swati Dhumane, 46, was conducting a tiger sign survey and was documenting evidence of tiger activity on Saturday at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapuri India. However, during her observation a 10-year-old tigress called Maya launched a savage attack.
TATR Field Director Jitendra Ramgaokar explained: “Dhumane and three forest labourers started their work around 7am and had walked about four kilometres from the Kolara gate of TATR when they spotted the tigress on a road… about 200 metres away.
“They waited for her to leave for about 30 minutes, but as she didn’t move Dhumane decided to take a detour through the adjoining patch of forest to get past.
“It was then that the tigress sensed a movement inside the forest. It followed the four persons and attacked Dhumane who was walking behind the three labourers.”
Her body was recovered later and was sent for a post-mortem.
Following her death, the tiger sign survey has been temporarily suspended.
Nandkishore Kale, deputy director of TATR, added how tourist vehicles were waiting on the road on the other side of the tiger when the attack happened.
He added: “Dhumane and the three helpers had completed four kilometres of [the] sign survey and wanted to complete five kilometres.
“Generally, on such occasions, it is advisable to return and do the remaining part later when the path is clear.
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Dhumane is the third person to be killed by Maya following incidents in 2017 and 2020.
A senior official urged people to “observe caution while venturing anywhere close to her”.
Tiger attacks are relatively rare, with around 40 to 50 people annually, compared to around 350 people killed each year by elephants, the BBC reported.
Not every tiger is a man-eater with only 10 to 15 of the animals become persistent predators of humans each year.
Ullas Karanth, a retired carnivore biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, previously told the BBC the way to keep the peace is to kill man-eating tigers.
He said: “That’s the attitude necessary if you want to have a large number of tigers.
“You can’t have everybody in the countryside turning against tigers because of one animal.”
Under Indian law, chief wildlife wardens and senior federal officials can issue an order to shoot if it is warranted in the interest of public safety.
Anup Kumar Nayak, additional director general of India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority, added: “If a tiger is really a man-eater, we have to go after this man-eating tiger according to a very well-defined standard operating procedure.”
However, animal rights activists have said man-eating tigers should be translocated and re-released or simply left alone rather than being killed.
Jerryl Banait, a physician and leading wildlife activist based in Nagpur, added: “I feel I am the voice for the voiceless animals.
“You cannot inflict atrocities and injustices on animals just because they cannot express themselves.”