Saturday, August 20, 2016

Queen of Tigers' Machhli, known as crocodile hunter, dies at 19

Tigress Machhli, known for her crocodile-fighting chops and foundation of a dynasty of Bengal tigers, died this week at age 19.

Machhli, first spotted in 1997, came to global fame after she was filmed fighting and vanquishing a 14-foot-long crocodile. She was also known as Machali or Machli.

Her size, strength, and calm in front of the cameras drew tourists and photographers to Ranthambore National Park. She was often found along the water territory of the jungle, earning her the nickname "lady of the lake," the park said on its website. Her name, meaning fish in Hindu, derived from the marking on her face.

National Geographic made a documentary about the tigress, called Tiger Queen, and the BBC also aired an episode on the animal, making her the most well-known face of the tiger conservation effort.

She gave birth to several litters of cubs, helping regenerate the park's tiger community at a time when the giant cat's populations were threatened by poaching and shrinking habitats.

In recent years her health declined. She lost her canine teeth fighting a crocodile, and the park periodically offered her bait. Park officials found her dead in the park on Thursday morning.

"We were trying to provide her treatment but she died. It was a natural death linked to her age," Yogesh Kumar Sahu, Ranthambore tiger project director, told news agency AFP.

She was cremated in a Hindu ritual, according to a tweet by news agency ANI.

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