Ranthambore: Tigress T-16 “Machli” which is considered as “Queen of Ranthambore” has died at around 9.50 am on the fringe of the park on Wednesday. She was 19 years old.
She had been guide by the naturalist Hemraj Meena at Ranthambore for 22 years. He said that, “Machli was found in a bamboo patch and since there was no movement for a long time forest officials checked on her to find that she was no more.”
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“The patch was immediately cordoned off and a team of Vets and top forest officials are being awaited for carrying out the necessary formalities. The carcass will also be sent for post-mortem after which a proper cremation will be carried out,” he added.
Meena said,“The cremation for Machli would be carried out in a proper way because, apart from being a legend, she was like the godmother of the entire forest. All guides and forest staff want a proper cremation for her just like we would do for any other family member.”
Machli was also known as “T-16”, senior forest officials from Ranthambore said. She had been keeping unwell and was being monitored by a team of staff and vets.
She is known to be the oldest living tigress in wild and her fame has been such that she has been drawing tourists from all over the globe. In fact, as per wildlife photographer Aditya Singh, she was named ‘Machli’ by Colin Patrick Stafford-Johnson, a cinematographer who went on to do five documentaries on her after he spotted what looked like an ‘angel fish’ on her cheek.
“Her most famous and remembered wildlife encounter is the one where she not only fought but also killed a 14-foot long crocodile. She is a legend and will remain the undisputed queen of Ranthambore even if she is gone. In spite of being in her prime, even in this season, she was most sought after as a lot of tourists feel that unless they have seen Machli their journey to Ranthambore remains incomplete,” said a park guide.
During her fight with crocodile, Machli had lost all her canine teeth.
“She was given baits to ensure she did not die due to hunger. She even had a dedicated team that used to keep a track of her movements,” Sources said.
“She was a big crowd-puller and, hence, even the Rajasthan government used to keep a tab on her well-being because she was India’s celebrity tiger. In fact in early 2014, she was thought to be dead, spreading panic when she was not spotted for close to 26 days but soon she emerged,” said a forest official.
“Machli was known as the real queen of Ramthambore. The sudden demise of her death has made tiger lovers emotional. Her presence had made Ramthanbore National Park more famous across the world. Tigress T-16 had played in the lakes of Ranthambore for many years. Moreover, her daughters had manned Sariska National Park for years. She will be remembered forever”- Dhirendra Godha, Ex. Mmeber state wildlife board said.