Although there are some fearsome tales of vicious man-hunting tigers stalking hapless victims, the cases of tigers actually attacking and / or eating human beings remain quite few and far-between. Still, tigers are more likely to kill a human being than any of the other wild cats.
A tiger attack on a human being usually occurs when a tiger has become too old, weak or incapacitated to hunt prey that is more difficult to catch and kill. Therefore, most of those animals dubbed man-eaters are usually losing teeth and suffering from other age-related maladies. This, in turn, means that they are not difficult to find, trap and kill by the humans trying to protect their own kind.
Interestingly, tigers are not likely to enter into a village or settlement in search of human beings to attack or eat (as a wild leopard may do, for example). Rather they will likely stay in their natural habitat and only attack once a human being enters it. Unfortunately for rural villagers, this may be a necessity, as they search their surroundings for firewood, food, building materials, and so on. Tigers are adept at hiding in long grasses or dense vegetation, waiting for the perfect time to pounce on their victim. In the case of other animals, they may be able to outrun or outfight the hunter. Humans, however, are not built for this type of struggle, and may easily succumb to the tiger’s powerful grip.
Today, the most common areas for tiger attacks on human beings are in India and Bangladesh. In these areas, even healthy tigers are attacking humans due to a shortage of space and viable prey. Still, this does not mean that these tigers favour human meat in any way. They are simply behaving in a way dictated by their circumstances.
However, it is believed that, once the tiger tastes human flesh and learns of the ease with which human beings can be caught, it may become somewhat of a habit to opt for these victims rather than fighting harder for its natural prey.
Fortunately, there is some consolation for the vulnerable villagers. Firstly, a tiger is unlikely to try and attack a group of people, and will usually only prey on an individual. Therefore, for their protection, these villagers have learnt to leave their villages in groups made up of several individuals. Secondly, a tiger will not pursue prey that has seen it prior to its attack. Therefore, by remaining alert and by indicating clearly that one has seen the tiger stalking, an attack may be averted