Machli’s encounter with a crocodile.

Fresh pugmarks sighted of missing Machli, the Queen of Ranthambhore

It was a near scare for the forest department when Tigress T-16, popularly known as Machli, disappeared from the Bhooth Khora area in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve for about a fortnight since January 9 when she was last photographed. However, a massive hunt on Friday helped the officials to trace the Tigress’s fresh pug marks.

“We have not been able to sight her but it is a relief that we managed to get fresh pug marks in the Peele Ghati area which is part of her territory. The pug marks are definitely her’s as a toe in one of her paws is crooked and the pug marks also reflect the same,” said DFO Rahul Bhatnagar.

Sources revealed that worries mounted when the Tigress did not come for some days for her regular food supplement provided by the forest department. The food supplement has to be provided to Machli as she is well over 16 years of age, much beyond the known life span of big cats in the wild. Moreover, an encounter with a crocodile once in a bid to save her cubs left her with broken canine.

The 22-men team that launched the hunt for Machli will continue with their efforts on Saturday. Also known as the Lady of the Lake, Machli is one of the most celebrated Tigresses of Ranthambhore and is said to be the most photographed cat in the world. She is also the oldest living wild Tigress in the world and has been the youngest mother in Ranthambhore. But with growing age she has been pushed to a corner in the forest by her own. Sources say the last time she was seen she had a limp.

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