Grand old tigress of Ranthambore, Machli, dies

Ranthambore (Rajasthan): Watched over by her human admirers, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve's pride, 19-year-old tigress Machli, the oldest big cat ever known to have walked the wilderness, died on Wednesday morning, officials said. Machli, the most photographed big cat at the reserve, died at 9.40 a.m. She had been refusing food and water for some time. She was under observation at Ama Ghati, in the fringe area of the reserve, and surrounded by a bevy of her admirers and forest officials when she died. Her body has been taken to the Ama Ghati check-post for the post-mortem, after which it will be cremated. The cremation is to avoid the body parts from being harvested, Ranthambore Field Director Y.K Sahu told IANS. Earlier this week after Machli, or T-16, was found in feeble condition near a resort in Ama Ghati fringes, officials cordoned off the area and kept her under observation. The area had a waterhole, and Machli lived there after she started losing her canines and prime area in 2008. For the last seven years, Machli was being fed bait to avoid death from starvation, perhaps a reason for her longevity.