India tiger killings: Hunt on after seventh victim found

India tiger There are about 1,700 tigers in the wild in India

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Forest workers in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh are hunting for a tiger that has killed seven people in the past two weeks and forced terrified villagers indoors.

The tiger's latest victim was a woman whose body was found in a forest on Tuesday, senior official Rupak De said.

Reports say the tiger's first victim was a 65-year-old man, whose body was found in Sambhal district last month.

The tiger is believed to strayed from the Jim Corbett National Park.

The tiger, a female, is believed to be on the prowl across an area spanning some 130km (80 miles).

"A hunt has been launched to kill the tigress that has turned into a man-eater,'' Mr De told the AFP news agency.

"It must still be hungry as it has been running without rest and adequate food."

Salim Luqmaan, a government official in Moradabad, where most of the killings have taken place, said local people were "terrified".

"They have been asked not to go near forest areas alone. Three hunters have been hired to kill the tigress," he said.

Separately, scores of schools in the southern Indian hill town of Ooty in Tamil Nadu state have been shut after a tiger killed three people in the area, media reports say.

In December, forest officials caught a tiger that was believed to have killed three villagers in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The killings had created tension with angry farmers vandalising a forest department office and setting fire to two jeeps.

There are about 1,700 tigers left in the wild in India.

It is thought India had 100,000 tigers a century ago but there has been a serious decline in numbers since then. Poaching and shrinking habitats are blamed.

Correspondents say tigers often compete with villagers living close to the reserves for resources, frequently leading to direct conflict.

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