Many of you requested an article written by Shizzy’s Wildcat Rescue on the life of Machli and we are honored to share some of the moments in Machli’s life that meant the most to us and inspired us to help animals.
Machli was born in May of 1996 in Ranthambore National Park in India and passed away on August 18th, 2016. She was labeled as T-16 and had many nicknames including Lady of the Lake, Queen of Ranthambore, Mother of Tigers, Crocodile Killer, and many more. Through the many years of documenting her, she became a symbol of hope for others due to her unwillingness to back down from the obstacles put in her way.
Machli received her name due to the markings on her face. Machli means “fish” in Hindi. Machli’s mothers name was also Machli and she was, at the time, a famous tiger which led to her offspring being documented. Machli showed aggression towards her mother and her siblings and eventually she challenged her mother and won. This is a normal occurrence for tigers as they want to have their own territory. By running her mother out of the area of Ranthmbore Lakes, Machli took over the largest region of Ranthambore. This region also included the Ranthambore Palace and the Fort of Ranthmabore. These also happened to be prime tourist areas.
Once this territory became hers, she began mating. In the coming years she mated with a large tiger named Bamboo Ram and gave birth to three cubs named Sundari (female,T-17) broken tail (male) and slant ear(male.) Broken Tail also has a documentary about his life as well called “Broken Tail: The Last Days of a Wild Tiger.” Machli also mated with Nick Ear and X-Male. Her other notable cubs include: Jhumru (male), Jhumri (female), Sharmeele, and Bahadur
Machli had 4 litters in her life time which is unheard of. This equaled out to be nine cubs in total. Machli’s maternal instincts were unmatched by any other animal in Ranthambore. In order to protect her cubs she over powered tigers that were much larger than she was, wrestled and killed crocodiles which one was documented during tourist hours, and various other species who wanted to harm her family.
Machli raised an entire litter with only one of her canines intact which is hard to fathom how a tiger could raise and provide for her family when her resources were so disadvantaged. She also survived for many years with just one eye after getting into a fight with T-72 Sultan. This was during her later years when she avoided the core area to avoid confrontation with other young and powerful tigers. This was a testament to how incredibly smart and adaptable she was.
When she became too old to hunt and showed signs of slowing down something incredible started to happen. She was loved and cherished by so many people that Ranthambore National Park began taking care of her in her older years. Park rangers would leave food out for her so she would be able to eat and continue living without having the stress of hunting. Although she did not have her canines anymore, she was killing the tethered animals with the sheer power of her jaw. Many tourists were allowed to see the park feeding Machli during her later years.
When it was finally Machli’s time to go, she went and laid down. She fell asleep and did not wake up. When she was discovered to have passed away it was an emotional time for all of Ranthambore along with the entire conservation community. She was given a ceremony and given a funeral when she passed. Her body was burned during the funeral. Many times when a big cat passes away they are burned to avoid poachers having the opportunity to dig up the remains.
Machli was also awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award" due to her enormous contributions to the conservation of India and how many people from all around the world she brought together to see her. Ranthambore National Park also reported that from 1998 through 2009, Machli’s fame helped them earn nearly 100 million dollars in revenue for India. Machli was given the title of the most photographed tiger in the entire world and with roughly 100 million dollars in economic growth due to her fame, I would bet that is true.