Machli, the queen of Ranthambore, dies at 19

Machli, the queen of Ranthambore, dies at 19

Machli, the queen of Ranthambore, dies at 19

Machli, the longest surviving tigress in the wild, died on Thursday after being critically ill for more than a week.

Often touted as the ‘Queen of Ranthambore’, the 19-year-old tigress, T-16, was hardly moving or eating during the last few days. According to the post mortem report, her death was natural.

DH had reported earlier that Machli is getting weaker with each passing day and might breathe her last anytime soon, based on the assessment of doctors treating her.

Machli had abandoned her territory and shifted to 'farm land of a private lounge', next to the sanctuary, where she breathed her last on Thursday morning at 9:52 am. A team of veterinarians and forest officials were “monitoring” her condition for the past week.  Her carcass was cremated at Amagathi checkpost on the periphery of Ranthambore reserve.

Her death cast a pall of gloom among wildlife lovers and activists. Her popularity can truly be seen on her Facebook page put together by her fans, as it was flooded with sad messages within hours of her death.

Where an average tiger’s life expectancy is between 10 and 13 years, Machli set another record by outliving the number and exceeding it by six years. Machli turned 19 years old in June 2016.

Doctors had given up on her as she was not found fit for capture through chemical immobilisation. Sudarshan Sharma, Divisional Forest Officer, who is camping in the reserve with his team, told Deccan Herald, "The condition of Machli was bad for the last few days. A team of doctors and staff declared her dead on Thursday morning after no movement was recorded from her side."

The tigress, who reportedly gave birth to eleven tiger cubs in her lifetime, was confined to a small section of the Ranthambore park during her last few days.

Also known as 'Queen of the Lake', Machli  was finding it difficult to hunt for food and often foresters had to tie a bait as feed. Having got used to feeding on the meat served by forest staff, and wary of other tigers in the reserve, Machli preferred a secluded area.

Balendu Singh, a noted wildlife activist said, "Machli was truly a Queen of the Reserve, which she dominated for 19 years. Tourists and photographers will miss her. She was the most photographed tigress of the reserve." Many documentaries and short films have been made on her and owing to her popularity, she also won the TOFT Lifetime Achievement Award.

Three years ago, in 2013, a commemorative postal cover on the tigress and a stamp were  released by the government. The tigress that once reigned over a large portion of the reserve for over a decade and stood her ground against muscular hunks, had turned toothless in a royal battle she won with a  14-foot-long crocodile to protect her cubs.

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