New Delhi - A man-eating tigress believed to be responsible for the deaths of 13 people in western India was shot dead after an elaborate hunt involving forest guards and sharpshooters, officials and news reports said on Saturday.
The six-year-old cat, nicknamed Avni, had claimed the lives of villagers near the Ralegaon forest in Maharashtra state's Yavatmal district since June 2016.
The tigress, known as T1 officially, was killed in the region late on Friday after a three-month search, senior police officials confirmed.
The state forest department had hired an expert hunter and sharpshooter and mounted an extensive operation involving nearly 200 personnel, trap cameras, drones, a pack of trained sniffer dogs and a hang-glider to trace her, broadcaster NDTV reported.
In September, the Supreme Court refused to suspend shoot-on-sight orders for Avni, mother to two 10-month cubs, prompting a flurry of online petitions.
Wildlife activists went online to protest Avni's killing, saying the forest department could have captured her instead of killing her, which orphaned her cubs.
Elsewhere TV footage showed locals celebrating and distributing sweets, saying they were relieved that the terror unleashed by the tigress was over.
DNA evidence had linked Avni to 5 of the 13 deaths in Yavatmal, NDTV reported. Forest surveyors said there was a male tiger in the forest whose DNA was found on one of the bodies.
India is home to the world's largest number of tigers in the wild. The count was at 2,226 in 2015, according to India'a National Tiger Conservation Authority.dpa