AFP

BIJNOR, India-As he trains his .458 Winchester Magnum rifle on a tethered goat he is using as bait, tiger-hunter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan whispers that it is only a matter of time before his real prey reappears.

“Now is a very dangerous time. The next human attack could happen anytime,” said the 55-year-old, who is leading a major tiger hunt on the outskirts of India’s Jim Corbett National Park. “This particular man-eater is hungry. It’s been a week since its last human kill.” Since December 29, the same tiger is believed to have killed eight people living near the national park which covers 521 square kilometres (208 square miles) in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The spree has terrorised villagers and prompted officials to call on Khan to stop the toll rising further. While tiger-hunting is illegal in Uttarakhand, the Uttar Pradesh state government has licensed Khan and five other hunters to either capture or kill their prey. India is home to half the world’s dwindling tiger population which now stands at 3,000.