India's most celebrated hunter has been called in for a controversial mission to shoot a man-eating tigress blamed for killing 13 people.
Nawab Shafath Ali Khan has begun his hunt after India's highest court dismissed objections from conservation groups and authorised the killing of the four-year-old cat and her two cubs.
The hunter, scion of an aristocratic family, has started combing the jungles of Maharashtra after the tigress, known as T1, terrorised villages in recent months.
Wildlife activists had sought to block any court order allowing the killing of the cat, arguing there was no definitive proof the tigress was responsible for the deaths.
They have also tried to block the involvement of Mr Khan, who is the go-to marksman for Indian officials troubled by man-eating tigers, rogue elephants or troublesome boar.
Mr Khan is stalking the tiger with elephants because vehicles are too loud and has said he will only shoot to kill as a last resort, instead using a tranquiliser gun if possible.
The hunt authorisation calls for Mr Khan to attempt to capture the tigress alive, but to kill it if necessary. Activists fear Mr Khan, who is renowned for killing hundreds of animals, will only make a token effort to take the cat alive.
He has said he is convinced the tigress is guilty and is killing for survival because of a lack of other prey. "The tigress has two cubs aged 10 months which are also eating human flesh," he said. "The killing of humans is easy prey, as there is no natural prey such as spotted deer and sambar and wild boar here. So the tigress is killing humans for survival." (© Daily Telegraph London)