India has called off its hunt for a man-eating tiger that was prowling villages in the country’s north after no reports of new deaths for six weeks, wildlife officials said Monday.
The tiger has killed at least nine people since late December, eluding a team of hunters in Uttar Pradesh state who set out on foot to kill the animal. A tiger killed a 10th person on Feb. 9, but forestry officials cannot confirm the same animal was responsible.
“The hunters have been sent back home,” wildlife warden Rupak De said Monday. “We presume that the tigress has returned to the forest.”
The animal is believed to have strayed from Jim Corbett National Park in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand, moving through sugarcane fields and rivers and crossing national highways.
Although the hunt was called off earlier this month, De said wildlife officials are still tracking the animal using drones as well as 50 cameras installed in villages around the tiger reserve.
While hunters are brought in to kill man-eating tigers every year or so in India, it has been decades since a tiger killed as many people as this one, or stayed on the run for so long.
Wildlife experts know little about the tiger. They know it is a female because of the shape of its paw prints, and many believe it is somehow injured, which could explain why it overcame its natural fear of humans.