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Credit: The Hindu

Over 300 forest and police officers are on the hunt for a tiger that has killed three villagers near the hill station of Ooty in Tamil Nadu, attacks that have terrified local residents and shut down a popular tourist site.

The Tamil Nadu government has set up camera traps, cages, elephant patrols and audio recordings of mating calls to capture the tiger, which has attacked three times since Jan. 4 in the Nilgiris district.

One camera trap picked up images of the tiger prowling in the farmland in the village of Kundachappai at about 10:50 p.m. Saturday, said the district forest officer, B. Sugirtharaj Koilpillai, by phone.

The search teams have zeroed in on this area. An experienced tracker has been called in from Hyderabad to tranquilize the man-eating tiger in Kundachappai. Several villagers have urged officials to issue shoot-on-sight orders instead of trying to tranquilize the animal.

Tourists have stopped visiting Doddabetta Peak, the highest mountain in the Nilgiri range, about nine kilometers, or six miles, east of Ooty. The state government has also temporarily shut down 45 schools in the villages of Kundachappai, Doddabetta, Thuneri, Thummanhatty, Anikorai and Kadanad, among others, P. Sankar, district collector, said by phone.

For the 15,000 villagers living near Ooty, life has been put on hold, as people are too scared to venture outside. The harvest festival of Pongal on Wednesday is likely to be sparsely attended, and the day laborers have been idle as the harvesting of tea leaves and lettuce crops has halted.

Forest officials said they believe that the tiger could either be dead or in an extremely weakened state since it has not eaten since Jan. 6, when it attacked a 58-year-old farmer. The tiger’s last kill came a few days later, but the victim’s husband hurled stones to drive the animal away before it could eat the victim.

Some camera shots showed that the animal was weak, Mr. Koilpillai told local media, and there was blood in its tracks, indicating it was also injured.

Published in: The New York Times
Published on: January 14, 2014