RIP Machli! India's most famous tiger, dies in Ranthambore aged 19

RIP Machli! India's most famous tiger, dies in Ranthambore aged 19

RIP Machli! India's most famous tiger, dies in Ranthambore aged 19

Ranthambore National Park's most famous tigress, 20-year-old Machli, died on Thursday morning.

According to an estimate quoted by the Times of India, during the past decade she helped the Ranthmbore park earn more than $10 million in revenue per year as thousands of tourists, both Indian and foreign, visited the park, hoping to catch a glimpse of Machli.

Known as the Queen of the national park, Machli was also referred to as T 16.

She was named Machli, the Hindi word for fish, because of markings resembling a fish on the left side of her face.

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. Machli was old but her precise age was in dispute.

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Local media had been reporting on the animal's declining health in recent days after she was discovered semi-conscious and starving on the fringes of the popular Rajasthan nature reserve.

Machli had fallen ill two years ago, too, but survived. "We are trying to provide her some food too but she has not eaten at all", said YN Sahu, field director, Ranthambhore.

She was 19 years old, which is 4-5 years higher than the average life span of tigers.

She birthed nine cubs over the past 16 years. "It took a few hundred kgs of wood and about 200 dung-cakes to cremate her, as 70 constables and other officials stood saluting her", said Rishikesh. Her fame resulted in a postal stamp in her name, a dedicated Facebook page and has been instrumental in the making of many documentaries and short wild life films.

Tourists came from across the world to come see Machli. From 2004, when the park had only 15 tigers, the number went up to 50 in 10 years, and 60 percent of the tigers there could trace their lineage to Machli.

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