Atragic incident was reported at the Tadoba-Andhari National Park (TATR) in India on Saturday. A female park ranger named Swati Dhumane was mauled to death by a tigress as she was hiking through the state park.
The 46-year-old park ranger was reportedly out conducting a routine tiger sign survey at the TATR in Chandrapur, India when the attack occured. Dhumane was with three colleagues who also work at the park when she was ripped apart by the 10-year-old tigress named Maya.
According to a report by The Sun, Maya previously attacked two other humans. The first recorded incident took place back in 2017, while another was reported just last year. Dhumane was Maya's third victim, and TATR Field Director Jitendra Ramgaokar said that the incident may have been avoided.
"Dhumane and the three helpers had completed four kilometres of [the] sign survey and wanted to complete five kilometres. Generally, on such occasions, it is advisable to return and do the remaining part later when the path is clear," he said.
He then went on to confirm that the group was aware of the threat after they had "walked about four kilometres from the Kolara gate of TATR when they spotted the tigress on a road… about 200 metres away."
Instead of turning back however, they waited for half an hour and decided to take a detour around the tigress by going through the forest. Unfortunately, Maya sensed their movements and tracked them inside the forest.
Dhumane was bringing up the rear as they hiked through the trees, leaving her the most vulnerable to the attack. The three colleagues tried to call for help but could not save her. They managed to return to safety and Dhumane's body was retrieved by park authorities hours after the attack was reported by her horrified companions.
Any further tiger sign surveys in the area, which document the big cat's activities, have been suspended until further notice.
Some tourists were reportedly lucky to have avoided the same fate, as a group was exploring nearby at the time as well. Despite this being Maya's third unprovoked attack on a human in four years, wildlife expert Bandu Dhotre insists that it is unusual behaviour for the animal. "Tourists make a beeline and move too close to tigers but never does the tiger attack them. Maya's attack on the forest guard is, thus, very shocking to say the least," he said.