Roar for Tigers

Missing tigress Machhli, India’s oldest, found in Ranthambore

Missing tigress Machhli, India’s oldest, found in Ranthambore

Feb 4, 2014

Machhli, the 19-year-old tigress that went missing a month ago, has been found.Top officials at Ranthambore National Park have been just informed by forest staff that the tigress was located in her territory.”Yes, we have got a message,” Daulat Singh Shaktawat, assistant conservator of forest at Ranthambore National Park, told India Today Online as he left for the forest to get more details about tigress’ condition.The tigress, one of the longest surviving and popular for her visibility near water bodies, even has a postal stamp on her. Normally, tigers live up to 14 years.Forest and wildlife officials have been under tremendous pressure to find whether the big cat was dead or alive. On Sunday, they put 100 personnel to locate the animal. Senior officials had almost presumed her dead.

Daulat Singh Shaktawat ties a camera to trace missing Machhli tigress. Photo: Purushottam Diwakar.
Daulat Singh Shaktawat ties a camera to trace missing Machhli tigress. Photo: Purushottam Diwakar.”Sunday’s search operation was to look for carcass and foul smell,” Rahul Bhatnagar, conservator of forest and in-charge of the national park, said.But they failed to find Machhli or her traces and it made a banner headline in the media here in Rajasthan on Tuesday.In the usual behaviour of an old tigers, Machhli had withdrawn from visible areas and her sightings had reduced in 2013 as compared to 2012.On Monday night, 21 cameras were placed at strategic locations with a hope to capture the elusive tigress.Machhli had lost her canines a few years ago and she was being assisted in hunting by providing her baits.This led to a debate with purists within the department as also activists insisting it was against the law of the wild to help those incapable of hunting on their own with bait.Some has been telling India Today Online that the tigress should have been allowed to die on her own.But if she is found alright, her survival despite not being fed on bait has been no less than a miracle.On Monday, another popular tiger, Sultan, a young one, was located after he went missing for a few weeks.Tigers often go out of sight of humans and that is why a comprehensive census is the best way to find their numbers.An elaborate exercise to get the numbers of tigers across the country using camera traps is done once in four years and the process has just started.The results will be out by March end.
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