Machali (T-16), the royal tigress is the most famed in India and is exclusively the pride of Ranthambore National Park. The glorious palaces, lakes and fort of Ranthambore are the major strong hold of Machali. It is the most photographed tigress in Ranthambore and is also being known as the "lady of the lake" since it can mostly be found along the water territory of the jungle. The tigress Machali has long been under media spotlight and has gained tremendous attentions amidst the vast ranges of animal and tiger lovers. There could be many reasons behind her fame but the one and only thing that has captivated many attentions are her muscular and majestic look and her dominance at the whole Ranthambore jungle. Films books and even life time awards are such accolades that have lifted her name to greater extent.
The most noticeable thing in Machali is in her name. It is named so since she has the fish shaped marking on the left part of her face. Her legendary fight with 14 foot long crocodile has really created a history and it was the first time since such an encounter has been recorded and filmed. Interestingly, Machali has been photographed many times and have gained a lot of popularity amidst the wildlife lovers. Many documentaries and short films have been shot for her and she had been the star of the wild tiger world. In addition to this many books have been written on her and her park; and even received a TOFT Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to conservation and the wider Rajasthan economy.
This renowned tigress was first witnessed during monsoons in 1997, probably in July and this was the time when people impressed with her majestic look and flexible movements. She gave birth to three cubs, one female and the other two male by mating with a large male tiger called "Bamboo Ram". The female one was being named "Sundari (T-17)" and the cubs were named "broken tail" and "slant ear".
By the end of December 2001 both these cubs separated from Machali. Soon after Broken Tail and Slant Ear separated from Machali, she mated again with another male tiger called "Nick Ear". Bamboo Ram had died of old age when Broken Tail and Slant Ear were still with Machali and Nick ear had taken over his territory. By April 2002, Machali had given birth to her second litter, the two cubs named Jhumru (male) and Jhumri(female). By the end of 2004 Machali mated with another male tiger known as X-male and around March 2005 she again gave birth to two cubs namely Sharmeele (which means shy in Hindi) and Bahadur (Brave).
Machali became popular due to its muscular strength and was always being noticed for saving her cubs from other animals and male tigers. It is so interesting to learn that the male tigers really got afraid of her and upon intimidating they use to run away from her and her cubs. Since her common territory was the lakes around the Ranthambore Fort and so she had great encounters with many crocodiles; the legends of which are so popular even now.
Machali, the queen of the tiger dynasty is now in her devolving stage; a painful fact to be accepted. The royal tigress that once used to conquer the whole dipso environment of Ranthambore for over a decade with her muscular hunks and impressive strength is now a toothless tiger that really needs feeding unlike the royal battle she won with 13 foot long crocodile at her enduring stage.
Certainly the elegance in her royalty still illuminates with her every movement and the grace is still clung with her every growing muscle. Perhaps this can easily be realized when she moves. Her inevitable legacy will survive forever. In fact, two of her daughters are now being shifted to Sariska Tiger Reserve when the reserve lost all its count so as to continue the dynasty of the tigers to rule in the whole jungles of Rajasthan.
Today, Machali has grown old and has lost almost all of her teeth and most of her territory as well. But still her royalty resounds at every nook andcorner of Ranthambore.