Machhli, India’s most famed tigress passed away four days back. Addressed as the Queen of Ranthambore, the 19 year old tigress Machhli was ill since long. She was hardly moving or eating anything during her last few days. Though a team of veterinary doctors and forest officials were monitoring her for the past week but they couldn’t save her. However, she is reported to be the longest surviving tigress in the wild until she died this Thursday.
Let’s know the fierce and proud life story of the legendary tigress Machhli here!
Machhli belonged to the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan or you may also say that the park belonged to her. Not just documentary filmmakers from across the world but common tourists to the park also refer to her as the Queen of Ranthambore. Machhli was a slender, striped big cat who enjoyed a huge fan following from all over the world. Most Ranthambore visitors considered a trip to the park with catching a glimpse of the majestic Machhli as an absolute waste of time. While many visited the park just to spot her. She was really very much popular not just in India but in the whole world.
Being a tigress of great fierce, why was she named Machhli? Well, this majestic Queen of Ranthambore had beautiful fish shaped eyes and the marks on her face that resembled a fish; that’s how she got her name. But her fame and popularity has not only to do with her physical appearance and beauty but it goes far beyond that.
Machhli rose to stardom after a rare event in the afternoon of 27th June, 2003, when she got into a fierce fight with a 14 foot long crocodile. The mighty tigress not only challenged but also successfully killed the crocodile in her territory. 2003 was a drought year because of which it was hard to find a prey. This crocodile entered her territory eyeing her prey and paid for it with his life. The fierce battle between the two lasted for hours and is one of the most remembered incidents from Machhli’s life where she killed the crocodile but also lost two of her canines.
What’s interesting is that dozens of wildlife enthusiasts were present to witness the fierce battle between Machhli and the crocodile. A few of them also captured the scenes from the fight, leading to propelling tigress Machhli to worldwide fame for her valour. Even photographers and wildlife enthusiasts such as MD Parashar got recognition for their exclusive pictures from the fight.
That fight in 2003 was just the beginning. The wild cat has a Facebook page in her name with lakhs of fans and followers. Thousands of photographs have been captured by wildlife enthusiasts, tourists and photographers who visit the Ranthambore National Park to spot her. She had become much more magnificent after her victory over the crocodile.
Killing the crocodile was just one incident. Tigress Machhli was the best of all. The majestic tigress’ rage was so intense that no opponent stood in front of her; not even the younger and stronger ones. In 2009, a young male tiger, T-28, tried to claim a sambhar that she had killed but he was left stunned with her rage and ferocity.
One and a half years ago, the government released a postal stamp with tigress Machhli's face on it. She is the only wild cat to have her own stamp. Having one’s own stamp is an honour that is given to leaders of men.
On 9th January, 2014, the Queen of Ranthambore went missing from Zone 5 of the park, leaving everyone in shock. Though the forest department and many more were continuously hunting for her, no traces of her could be found for 3 weeks. But then one day, Daulat Singh, who is a well-respected forest officer of Ranthambore and a tiger lover, he spotted Machhli again at the Kachida guard post in Ranthambore. Everyone found relief when they saw her relish a prey the next day.
Machhli gave birth to 11 tiger cubs in her lifetime at Ranthambore. While tiger conservationists from the entire country have been trying really hard to improve the falling numbers of tigers in the country, her contribution to the rise in tiger numbers is appreciated. Rajasthan boasts of merely 52 tigers out of which, 11 were born to tigress Machhli.
With several visitors coming to Ranthambore only to spot Machhli, T-16, she had contributed more than $10 million a year to the economy of Ranthambore over the last decade. The reserve earned millions of rupees from tourists who came to see and photograph her from different parts of the world.
Machhli had lost two of her canines to her fight with the crocodile. Her remaining two canines fell off 2 years back. It then became impossible for her to hunt on her own. Even if she managed to kill an animal, a healthier and younger tiger used to claim it from her. So the forest department offered tied animals to her so that she does not starve. This also helped the majestic tigress to live a longer life then most tigers do.
Wildlife enthusiasts and forest department officers who were keeping a watch at Machhli had said that this could be her last season in Ranthambore. With her ageing body and inability to hunt her way, she was fast approaching the end. During her last few days, she was confined to a small section of the Ranthambore National Park. She had refused eating and moving for a week before she passed away on Thursday. Though the average life expectancy of tigers is 12-13 years, Machhli crossed that to complete 19, becoming the longest surviving tigress in the wild.
As Ranthambore’s favourite tigress passed away, a ceremony was held by officials to mark her passing. Her body was cremated following Hindu rituals.
Tigress Machhli, the Queen of Ranthambore was perhaps the most photographed tigress on earth. She will always be remembered for her magnificence and ferocity, even years after her death.