At around 20 years old, Machli was the grand dame of the park. She was also known as the “lady of the lake.”  She was often seen near water and her name means “fish” because of the distinctive fish-like marking on one of her cheeks.

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Wild tigers usually live up to 15 years, and Machli’s health had been declining in recent weeks. She had already lost most of her teeth, and went blind in one eye.

Ranthambore describes her as “the most famed in India.” In her heyday, Machli was known for her strength and grace, and was even filmed taking down a 14-foot crocodile. She had her own Facebook page, was featured on a commemorative stamp and was awarded a lifetime achievement award for her extensive contributions to the Indian economy and conservation.

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Her most important legacy lives on. While her death is a significant loss to the wild population, there are under 4,000 tigers left in the wild, compared to the 5,000 trapped in zoos and as personal pets in the U.S. alone.  Machli gave birth to 11 cubs during her lifetime, and it’s believed that 60 percent of the park’s tigers can trace their lineage to her.

“Her bloodline reigns supreme in valleys & glades of the park,” said Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of the state of Rajasthan.

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She also was known to be a fierce and protective mother. “Machali became popular due to its muscular strength and was always being noticed for saving her cubs from other animals and male tigers,” Ranthambore writes. “It is so interesting to learn that the male tigers really got afraid of her and … they use[d] to run away from her and her cubs.”

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Unfortunately, the so-called Queen of Ranthambore’s time finally came to an end, sparking a wave of mourning among her international well-wishers.

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“You continue to live in our hearts … and always will!” Ranthambore said.

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