When: 18 August, 2016
Where: Ranthambore National Park, Sawai Madhopur
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India’s most iconic and endearing big cat, Machhli, died of old age in Ranthambore National Park on Thursday morning.
Born in 1997, Machhli — also known as T-16 — got her name from a fish-shaped mark on her face. Over the years, she became one of the most-photographed animals in the world succumbed to old age on Thursday morning ending her love affair with Rajasthan’s Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. The 19-year-old tigress, one of the most photographed in the world, was reported dead around 9.50 am on the fringe of the park, close to a densely forested patch near a luxury resort that became her last territory.
Machhli 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. The patch was immediately cordoned off and a team of Vets and top forest officials carried out the necessary formalities. The carcass was also sent for postmortem after which a cremation ceremony was carried out as per Hindu rituals. 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. She was named ‘Machhli’ by Colin Patrick Stafford-Johnson, a cinematographer who went on to do five documentaries on her after he spotted what looked like a ‘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 ‘Machhli’ their journey to Ranthambore remains incomplete, although almost half of the tigers from Ranthambore belong to her lineage. Machli had lost all her canine teeth during her fight with the crocodile and sources say 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. She was a crowd-puller and her fame is such that she has a postage stamp, and several short film/documentaries dedicated to her name.