The queen is dead.
Machali, who was alternately called “Machli” or “Machhli,” was named after the Hindi word for fish, due to a fish-like marking on one side of her face. She was known by many titles. such as Queen Mother of Tigers, Tigress Queen of Ranthambore, Lady of the Lakes, and Crocodile Killer.
The latter nickname came from a widely-known incident when Machali killed a huge crocodile on camera.
In her heyday, Machali was known as a fierce fighter who routinely fought crocodiles and other tigers to protect her cubs. For most of her life, the Tigress Queen patrolled a swathe of territory that included several lakes and Ranthambore National Park’s Ranthambore Fort.
Machali was considered to be one of the most-photographed wild animals in the world. Several documentaries, including National Geographic’s 2015 doc Tiger Queen, were been made about her. The legendary big cat was also featured in a variety of Indian postal materials.
By her last years, Machali had lost most of her teeth and suffered from poor eyesight. She had also lost most of her territory, and reportedly had to be fed by park workers who would leave meat tied to trees for her.
Machali is survived by a dozen or so cubs. Over half of Ranthambore National Park’s wild tigers can reportedly trace their lineage back to the Queen Mother.