The world's most photographed tigress from the Ranthambore National park, T-16, popularly known as Machli, is all set to be immortalised. At eighteen years, Machli has lived past her prime and is not in the best of her health as the forest officials tracking her have now started to realise.
After getting a stamp issued in her name, the department, fearing they could lose the most famous feline in the world forever, has taken an unprecedented step of keeping her alive even after her death. The state forest department is seeking the National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) assent to allow it to retrieve the big cat's skin upon its demise so that the animal can be preserved and its life-size incarnation can then be put up before the world as a trophy to Machli's glorious history.
dna has reliably learnt that the chief wildlife warden has written a letter to the NTCA. "If the consent is given, the body of the animal will be retrieved after it dies which will be sent to a taxidermist who will take out the skin and make a trophy of the tigress. The trophy will then be put up on display so that the visitors can see and learn about Machli," officials told dna.
Sources in the wildlife park said Machli's movements are now being tracked 24X7. "We have been asked to retrieve her skin in one piece the event of her death. It is essential for us to know her whereabouts as the maggots eat into the flesh and destroy the skin within 24 hours of a feline's death," an official said.
The forest department's anxiety has been accentuated by the fact that a young T-24 that had taken over Machli's territory has now also started claiming her kills in the area, forcing her into the periphery of her original territory.
The tigress once reigned supreme in the woods of Ranthambhore National Park, where her territory stretched over the three main lakes inside the national park. The department officials credit her with more than fifty percent of the tiger population of Sariska and Ranthambore National Park.
However, old age has caught up with the tigress, which at eighteen years, is nearly four years more than the average age of a tiger that lives in the wild. A few months back, the tigress had vanished from the park sending the department into tizzy, with many believing that she could well have been dead. "Her pugmarks could not be seen anywhere, leave alone being sighted. Two dozen camera traps were installed at strategic locations in the tiger territory and teams of over 200 officials patrolled the park since Machli went missing. When everyone thought that the animal is dead, she appeared in her territory again," a highly placed department official recounted the incident.
"Her disappearance gave the idea to officials to give a chance to people to see the feline for time immemorial. This was when the department wrote to the NTCA. We are still awaiting
confirmation," the official said.
Interestingly, a round the clock surveillance is kept on the feline and forest guards are kept on duty to keep an eye on her every move so much so that they even know if the animal has had its fill of water for the day or not.
Interesting facts about Machli
She is the most photographed tigress in the world.
Half the population in Ranthmbhore and Sariska parks are of her lineage
She is also known as the "lady of the lake" since she reigned over the water bodies of the jungle.
She has been bestowed with a TOFT Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Rajasthan.
Her fight with 14-feet long crocodile is legendary, the encounter having been captured on camera.