Source AP ©

Dangerous tiger shot dead in India

A tiger had killed four people and injured two others in western India and than was shot dead by police, a forestry official said Monday.

Angry villagers had demanded that authorities kill the animal. Forest rangers had tracked it after it had been straying from Maharashtra state's Tadoba-Andhari sanctuary since mid-October, mauling and killing residents.

"The problematic animal has been killed. This is the same tiger that killed four villagers," said B. Majumdar, chief conservator of forests.

Villagers said it had also injured two other people over the past six weeks.

Officials had earlier said that they would try to trap, tranquilize or drive away the tiger, which had often been spotted in rice fields bordering the thick jungles.

Villagers said the tiger had killed its fourth victim, a farm worker, after dragging him into the forest Friday. They said it later killed a buffalo in the same area near Mangrul village, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the city of Nagpur.

Police sharpshooters had kept watch near the buffalo carcass and killed the tiger with rifles when it re-appeared early Saturday, Majumdar said.

There are an estimated 44 tigers in the lush, 625-square kilometer (240-square mile) sanctuary, often held up as a successful example of tiger protection. The area's forest extends for another 800 square kilometers (497 square miles) beyond the reserve, and is densely populated with about 50,000 villagers who work in surrounding rice fields.

Animal rights activists have questioned the decision to kill the tiger.

Wildlife activist Debi Goenka said that forestry officials should have tried harder to push the tiger back into the sanctuary, and that villagers should have been cautioned to go to work in groups.

India's tiger population is fast dwindling. Most are killed either by poachers - who can sell tiger skins for decoration or other parts for traditional medicine - or by angry villagers competing with tigers for land.

An official report last month confirmed a sharp drop in India's wild tiger population, saying there are no more than 1,500 in India's reserves and jungles - down from about 3,600 just five years ago and an estimated 100,000 a century ago.

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