Machali give her the respect and dignity she deserves by Michael J Vickers


There is a proposal sent for approval to the National Tiger Conservation Authority in India for Ranthambhore’s well known tigress ‘Machali’ to be dispatched to a taxidermist then stuffed and displayed for visitors to see once she has died.   I have prepared a petition requesting the authorities to disallow this course of action.  In my opinion when the sad time comes and this wonderful old tigress passes away she should be cremated with the respect and dignity that she well deserves and in accordance with rules laid down by the NTCA.  Please sign this petition that already contains almost 3,000 signatures and encourage others to do the same.  Thank you. Michael 

UPDATE 19/06/2014 – Machali and Cee4life In India

10346534_803822256303947_4089931212293125251_nMachli Will Be Safe and Protected for the Rest of Her Life – In May 2014 while director Sybelle Foxcroft was in Indonesia for Surabaya Zoo and Melani, we received a plea to help the iconic tigress Machli in India. We began to try to aid her immediately. The problem was that there were very well known tiger experts who disagreed with her being fed, although since 2011 she had been getting fed due to her loss of k9’s and Machli being so beloved around the world.
The claims as “it is natural to let her die she is a wild tiger not a pet” were just stupid. The moment humans stepped in and fed Machli, was the moment that the true natural process’s ended. To stop feeding her now was just cruel, inhumane and would likely cause Machli to still try to hunt and take down the easiest prey species in the world – a human being.

All scenarios of the “stop feed” were examined, and in both factual science and humanity and moral grounds, all scenarios equalled one thing – continue her protection until the very end.
So Sybelle went into fight for her, from Indonesia.
As Sybelle then crossed over to Thailand to go to the Tiger Temple to continue her 8 years of protection to her beloved tigers there, she fought for Machli. If anyone does not know of Sybelles work in the Tiger Temple it is highly recommended you read the book on this ( ) then you will really understand the meaning of courage in the face of fear and intimidation.

Due to unrest in Thailand she was caught in a martial law take over of the country and then a coup. As the on ground reports intensified on Machli’s plight and the “stop feed” agenda, increased, Cee4life knew there was no other option but to take the fight head on.

As ridiculous as this sounds, to aid an animal like a tiger, becomes like walking through a gauntlet of explosives, while being set on fire with arrows being shot at you. The heat of whom you must deal with to get a tiger safe is intense, more like an inferno of hot lava being poured on you. All the vicious obstacles come out, and its not only ugly but also dangerous.

Sybelle made it through to the airport in Thailand through a country in severe unrest, threats of violence and military surrounding her.

On arrival in Australia, more reports on Machli came through via legal channels, the situation was desperate now. What goes on behind closed doors, is not what you will see in the media. Briefly, behind the scenes Machli’s case was chaotic with those uneducated people virtually demanding she be starved and seeing absolutely no logic of the repercussions if they did that, along with showing the reality of loss of humanity, and then those that were trying hard to protect her for life.

As we have always said, there is good and bad in every country/place in the world. Cee4life liaised with the good in India who fought for the humane and right thing to do for one of India’s last tigers.

On 24th May 2014, Sybelle placed a call to India to the highest authorities on the Tigers. She spoke at length about all the reasons why the “stop feed” was not the moral or natural or humane thing to do.
It was confirmed that immediately after that phone call a fax was sent to reinstate Machli’s suppliments. Within days, Machli food was reinstated. (Ironically those that were publicly attacking cee4life, were boasting about the photos they took of her being fed, and saying we did not have our facts straight. Little did they know the reason she was being fed…..or why they got their precious photos….)

But her ongoing feeding was not confirmed, she was still in peril because of the stupidity of those aligning themselves with intimidating well know names, for reasons that they will only know themselves, and preferring to let this glorious girl who has earned these very people trying to condemn her to a agonising death, $800 million in tourism dollars in her lifetime.

Claims “she wants to die” “she is a troubled soul” – all utter illogical as it was clear Machli certainly loved life and wanted to live.

Machli the Bengal Tigress of India, like Melani the Sumatran Tigress of Indonesia was being petitioned for death. Both by the hands of so called “experts” and others who dared not go against the “experts” because of their own lack of courage and moral fibre. What an utter sin. But this is exactly what some people are like.

Cee4life prepared to go straight to India and take Machli’s case to the highest level possible and aid this lovely girl. Without mentioning any names involved, the very highest levels of Indian Government were all contacted by Cee4life while legal action was in motion.

Why the hell must we fight so hard for an animal that is suffering?? Why must we time and time again, all over the world, have to reach to the highest levels to have permission to be humane to an animal? Should not that be a natural aspect of our own humane souls?

So, to cut a long story short.

We are very ecstatic to notify you, once again without naming names, We can 100% tell you now from yesterday, Machli the beautiful iconic life loving tigress of Ranthambore WILL be safe and protected all her days humanely and never again be under peril even from those that wish her food stopped.

Machli is safe now in this aspect (however due to knowing poachers are targeting Ranthambore and all the tigers of india, there is a great need for action in protecting the last 1000 or so tigers there)

We have already notified all our donators on this outcome yesterday who gave so generously to aid us in this urgent mission as we are a 100% transparent organisation and appreciate everything that everyone supports us with.

So, no matter how much adversity that you may come up against, don’t loose faith, and don’t allow yourself to crumble, because it could mean life or death for a beautiful being.

Machli will be protected now, forever cared for.

This time humanity won

Never Give Up – Cee4life

Photograph by Bobby Bhargawa

Machali and Cee4life In India

Machali and Cee4life In India – Due to our upcoming visit in a couple of weeks to India, we thought it would be good to share we everyone the work that we have done in India and for the last of the Bengal Tigers. We provide education to the public, private and government sectors on many conservation issues and aid with the rescue and rehabilitation of both wild and captive animals, specifically Tigers. Cee4life works in most of the SE Asian countries, and have aided in conservation situations in USA, Kenya and European areas. Machali is based in India, in Ranthambore, so I thought it would be good to recap some of the work with have done to help in India.

Photo: cee4life

In 2011 when we conducted the educational event Freedom Walk for the Tigers at Corbett National Park which was aided by Indian media, specifically NDTV. –
In 2012 we happened to be in a remote area where a Tigress had one of her four cubs hit and killed by a car. The mother Tigress attacked any random vehicle that passed by for the next week. No one went to aid her. So we did. Here is the film of that.-

And we support anti poaching teams in India and provide them with their needs.

In early 2014 we released the very controversial Bengal Tiger Death Count report of all Bengal deaths of 2013, in hope the severe impact of poachers of the glorious Bengal Tigers could hopefully be clearly seen and inspire more anti poaching teams to be implemented and trained in a highly tactical manner –

Photo: cee4life

The director of Cee4life, Sybelle Foxcroft, has been requested by a number of Indian tiger lovers and conservationists to come to Ranthambore and visit Machali as there is great concern about her well being due to the conflict in the decision to feed or not feed Machali.
After seeing the difficult but successful recent rescue and rehabilitation of a Tiger Cee4life assisted in saving, we have been contacted regarding the great concern for Machali – For your information here is the documentary which ABC Foreign Correspondent did with us on this

I hope you enjoy reading through the work that we have been doing over the years to try and aid the Indian Bengal Tigers, and we thank the Indian Media and Authorities for their support in all of this. ~ Cee4life

Credits: CEE4Life

The new Lady of the Lake

unnamedIn India’s most well-known tigerscape, with its backdrop of towering cliffs and fortress walls, ruined pleasure palaces, temples and chattris reflected in glistening lakes, a new generation of tigers has been born. Their mother, Unnis (T19), is the third tigress to occupy this breathtaking scenery in only four years. Unnis’s mother, Machali,  the grande dame of Ranthambhore lived here all her life, before her daughter Satra (T17) usurped her territory in 2011, only to disappear a couple of years later in May 2013  – in mysterious circumstances – leaving behind three young cubs.

Julian Matthews, Tiger-in-Chief

Credits: Tiger Nation

Where has Machali gone?

by Julian Matthews

The last photo we have of Machali now moved to Phili Ghat. (c) Yadvendra Singh
The last photo we have of Machali now moved to Phili Ghat. (c) Yadvendra Singh

Machali, the legendary cover girl for her species and the ever present symbol of Ranthambhore’s place amongst the firmament of India’s finest tiger reserves, is missing. The authorities are in a mild panic.

Too famous to let die of anything other than old age, for over two years she has continued to live in and around a small part of her old stamping ground, the Lakarda plateau,on the borders of her once large and very royal hunting ground. Here she remained, while her last litter of daughters, Satra (T17) and Unnis (T19) remained close. She was fed so called ‘meals on wheels’, goats and buffaloes brought by jeep and tethered on a rope to eat, a sop to her age, but in truth she was, at the ripe old age of 17 years, still capable of killing her own food. She also kept her sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandsons and granddaughters – for she was grandmother or mother to most of Ranthambhores tiger’s – from evicting her from her retirement home.

Free food is very tempting, and many tigers could not resist dining at the same ‘meals of wheels’ banquets, including Unnis (T19) her daughter, her two grandsons Suraj and Akash (T64 & T65), and also Semli, the dominant male of these parts (T6). Like Machali herself they knew the sound of the Forest vehicle and the bleeting or bellowing of the next victim, and came to join the feeding party. Anger and fighting ensued, and recently Machali finally gave way and left her Lakarda home for another area around Pili Ghati.

This part of the park was relatively unoccupied by tigers, disturbed too often by illegal woodcutters. Though she is used to the comings and goings of a million pilgrims in her old home, and the thousands of vehicle bound tourists, she would be unused to the more random actions of woodcutters, and the noise they made. Yesterday the Forest department took action to evict the woodcutters and restore protection to the area and peace to her rest home.

She has though not been seen now since the 9th January by our teams, but hopefully peace will be restored to her new home, and she will come out of hiding. The search continues.

Credits: Tiger Nation

Jhumaroo – the father of the park Ranthambore

normal_n1498258299_30306232_5761143Jhumaroo (T20) is Ranthambhore’s oldest male. If his mother, the famous Machali, is the grandmother of the park, Jhumaroo is the father of the park, with a dynasty unequalled today – fathering at least 18 descendants with four known tigresses and still going!

He is very seldom seen today as lives outside the tourism zones. He has been in real trouble recently injuring two villagers outside the park.

Jhumaroo (T20) the culprit, who was in a village yesterday, injuring two people. He's home now. (c) 2012
Jhumaroo (T20) the culprit, who was in a village yesterday, injuring two people. He’s home now. (c) 2012

Jhumaroo and sister Jhumari where born in May 2002, and grew up under the watchful eye of their mother Machali in the glorious lakes and fort area of the park. They were her second litter.

We first saw the family of three cubs on the 30th of June (the day before Ranthambhore closed for the monsoon season) in the Nalghati valley. Though prime hunting ground, it also meant that Jhumaroo and Jhumari had to get used to the streams of visitors that were forever watching them as they grew up.

Machali was carrying one softly in her mouth and the other two were following behind their mother. However, oneof these cubs did not survive and when Ranthambhore reopened for visitors in October that year there were now only two cubs left. By the monsoon season of 2004 the cubs had separated from their mother, but not before Machali had taught her son the art of killing crocodiles – a very unusual behavior. Sadly sister Jhumari was never seen again andit is thought she did not last the separation with her mother after Machali’s next litter.

By 2005 Jhumaroo, though still young, had taken over the Lahpur area of the park, rich with wildlife. At a timewhen poaching was rife in the park the resident male tiger had been poached and Jhumaroo had the opportunity to rise to power. Here he happily settled and over the last 6 years has enjoyed all the riches that the area affords without the visitor hassle just over the hill to the west. Females that have fallen for his charms include Jaisingpura (T26), Lahpur Nagdi (T22), the Gilai Sagar tigress (T27) and Indala with her three cubs.

3In Mid July he wandered into a village in the Kandar area, eastern borders, outside the park, probably looking for food, and seriously injured one villager. The remaining villagers pelted stones at him, and in the melee, a further villager was hurt.

The parks department tranquilised him and returned him to his home range.

4We hope he has learnt a lesson here.

Credits: Tiger Nation

The legendary tigress Machali

Machali was, until recently, the resident tigress of the area around the famous Ranthambhore Fort and lakes. Once home to powerful Maharajas and Maghuls, it was abandoned in the 16th century and the wilderness returned to this most picturesque park.

Here, glorious pleasure-domed palaces, lakes, and Formand fortress walls enclose ruined palaces and pillared temples. Onion-topped chattris provide shade; perfect resting places and great ambush sites for Machali, as she hunts her main prey, sambar deer, that bathe in the lakes, and spotted deer who graze the verges.

1Machali is probably the most photographed tiger in the world. She has starred in a number of documentaries, had a library of books written on her and her park, and even received a TOFT Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to conservation and the wider Rajasthan economy.

While her name means ‘fish’ in Hindi, this was actually her mother’s name, after a fish-like marking. While the name passed down, the marking didn’t (all tigers have unique stripe patterns) and Machali’s most distinguishing feature is a fork-like mark on her left cheek.

2Machali was born during the monsoon months of 1997, probably in July. She has two other sisters but was always the dominant cub. She was first seen during the winter of 1997 and by the beginning of 1999 she had started hunting on her own: the first sign she was about to separate from her mother. Soon afterwards, her mother ceded a part of her territory to Machali and that’s where she’s spent the majority of her reign.

This was at the centre of the 350 square miles of the park, in a prime location, and among some of the most varied and picturesque landscapes. More recently, her daughter Sundari has usurped her range and pushed Machali to the park’s fringes. Still, her range has a mix of different habitats, ranging from deep tree-lined valleys to sun scorched plateaus, and a high concentration of prey species.

Tiger eating a kill in RanthambhoreHer former territory around the fort is still is visited by thousands of tourists each year, who come to catch a glimpse of her or her offspring. A huge number of pilgrims also walk to the temple of Lord Ganesh within the fort. Once a year, over three days, half-a-million pilgrims visit this temple. Machali has never tried to stalk, hide, or run from them, and it’s a wonder that she’s never attacked anyone.

During the summer months of 2000 she mated with a large male tiger called Bamboo Ram and three months later she gave birth to two male cubs. We named them Broken Tail (because his tail was broken) and Slant Ear (for reasons no-one remembers). By the end of December 2001 both these cubs, now teenagers, separated from Machali and sadly we never saw Slant Ear again.

4For around 18 months, Broken Tail lived in a small territory at the edge of park, overrun with cattle grazers and a dearth of prey. Somewhere in the summer of 2003, probably forced by lack of water, Broken Tail decided to leave Ranthambhore. In August 2003, we were sad to hear that a passenger train had run him down about a 100 miles away, in a heavily-populated farming region of Rajasthan.

Soon after Broken Tail and Slant Ear separated from their mother, she mated again with another male tiger called Nick Ear. By now, Bamboo Ram had died of old age and Nick Ear had taken over his territory and was the dominant male within Machali’s territory.

By May 2002 Machali had given birth to her second litter. We first saw them on the 30th of June (the day before Ranthambhore closed for the monsoon season) in the Nalghati valley, and there were three cubs. Machali was carrying one softly in her mouth and the other two were following her. However, one of these cubs did not survive and when Ranthambhore reopened for visitors in October that year there were now only two cubs left.  We named the male Jhumaroo and the female Jhumari.

5By the end of 2004 her second litter had left her side and she was seen mating again, this time with another large male known as ‘X’ because nobody knew much about him or where he had come from.

Around this time Ranthambore was again under siege from highly-organised tiger poachers (many from the well-known poaching community on the edge of the park) and the dominant tiger, Nick Ear fell to their bullets. Soon after her mating with ‘X’, she drove Jhumaroo and Jhumari from her area. Jhumaroo rapidly set up his own territory in Lahpur, taken over ground from the poached male tigers that once lived there. Jhumari disappeared soon after, and our guess is that she simply didn’t survive the separation from her mother – something that happens relatively often.

Indian Marsh crocodile or Mugger with open mouth in waters of North IndiaJhumaroo inherited Machali’s skill as a crocodile hunter. Living beside lakes full of India most deadly reptiles, this was behaviour that had never been seen before in the wild. All of these long scraps with crocodiles (one lasting a remarkable 13 hours) took their toll on Machali, however, and she lost a couple of canine teeth in the process.

In March 2005, at the relatively advanced age of eight, Machali gave birth to her third litter of two cubs – a male we called Bunty and a female called Bubbly. These two cubs stayed with her until October 2006. When these cubs were young, we were pretty sure that they’d be Machali’s last.

Three tigers walking on the forest tracks of Ranthambore tiger reserveHowever, much to our surprise, Machali gave birth to a fourth litter during the monsoon months of 2006. This time she had three cubs. These cubs are now full grown and independently established: Satra, Athara, and Unnis.

Today Machali is old, has lost almost all her teeth and most of her territory, and lives not on a diet of deer, but slow-moving cattle on the fringes of the park. Her daughter Satra had at one point driven her out. But, as Satra is distracted with raising her cubs, it might be time for Machali to make her return and reclaim her land.

Machali’s inevitable legacy will survive however. In 2009, Bubbly was darted and moved to Sariska Tiger Reserve, followed a few months later by another of her daughters, Athara. Today. they are the nucleus of a new line of tigers in this tiger park, only 100 miles from Ranthambhore.

These life stories were brought to you after years of careful observation, notes and photography. Aditya Singh is a principal contributor together with many of Ranthambhore’s nature guiding community, and the success of Tigerwatch’s ongoing intelligence. Read all their blogs here



Credits: Tiger Nation