Zee Media Bureau/Liji Varghese
Jaipur: Machli, the 17-year-old tigress, known to be the pride of Ranthambore National Park, continues to be missing after she was last spotted on January 9, sparking poaching fears in the region.
Wildlife authorities have been unsuccessful in locating the world`s most photographed striped cat despite deploying several teams and trap cameras all over the park.
The tigress was last seen on January 9 by a nature guide in Zone 5 of the park, an official from the State Board for Wildlife informed.
Machli, who got her name from the fish-shaped marking on the left part of her face, is reported to be the world`s longest living tigress in the wild - average life of a striped wildcat being around 12 years. The tigress who was in her devolving stage, was being offered bait on a regular basis.
According to reports, encroachments inside her territory forced the tigress to move to adjoining spots "Bhoot Khora" and "Peeli Ghati".
The recent incident has sparked fears of poaching in the region as an year ago another tigress T17 disappeared from "Peeli Ghati".
Machali (T-16) was also known as the "Lady of the lake" since it was mostly found along the water territory of the jungle. The tigress who had long been under media spotlight gained tremendous attentions due to her muscular and majestic look and her dominance in the jungle. She has been the subject of several documentaries, short films and books.
Her legendary fight with 14 foot long crocodile created history, being the first such encounter that had been recorded and filmed. She even received a TOFT Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to conservation and the wider Rajasthan economy.
Machli gave birth to nine cubs between 2000 and 2006 — four males and five females, out of which six were translocated to Sariska.