A lioness walks through the forest in the Namibia region of the KAZA Will Burrard-Lucas/ WWF

Police in France are searching for a lioness which has been on the loose for several days. The hunt was confirmed by the military police department of Mayenne in the north-west of the country where the big cat is reported to be prowling the countryside.

The hunt was triggered when multiple "credible witnesses" came forward to report the sighting of what appeared to be a lioness.

There is no photographic evidence of the sighting but officials have reported that the cat is moving in a westwards direction towards the tourist region of Brittany.

A truck driver reported the big cat on 20 July, saying that it had the "the head and the gait of a lion."

The region where the sightings have been made include multiple farms, and a lioness would require food to sustain itself.

The search has involved sniffer dogs but is slowly being scaled back. With farms in the area, the lion would have had to kill, and with no sheep or cow carcasses reported in the area, it is unlikely that the big cat is a lioness.

Vincent Lantheaume, head healthcare specialist at a wildlife park near Nantes, said: "A lioness eats around 3kg of meat every day, with two days of fasting a week."

A spokesperson from the big cat charity, Panthera said: "It's rare for a lion to fast for this long. If she exists, she's in a critical state."