Machali, the world’s oldest tigress in the wild and one of the most photographed individual animals in the world, died Thursday in her home range of Ranthambore National Park in the state of Rajasthan, west India. The state’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje confirmed the news on Twitter.
#Machhali gave visitors stories to remember--her bloodline reigns supreme in valleys & glades of the park.
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) August 18, 2016
Animal lovers and Machali fans expressed their sorrow on social media.
— Parthsarathi Jha (@parthsarathijha) August 18, 2016
— Apurva Jadhav (@Apurvaa_Jadhav) August 18, 2016
— Marc Daniels (@Psuedo) August 18, 2016
The big cat was 19 years old, and had lost most of her teeth and the use of one eye. She also lost most of her territory due to her failing strength and was reportedly ill the last few months. A recent video of Machali, uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by an Indian news outlet, said the tigress had not been eating much the last few days and ate nothing at all Tuesday.
The tigress was given her name, which means fish in Hindi, because of a piscine marking on her face, according to the Ranthambore website. Machali gave birth to 11 offspring, seven females and four males, and was crucial to the increase in tiger population in the national park. From 2004, when the park had only 15 tigers, the number went up to 50 in 10 years, and 60 percent of the tigers there could trace their lineage to Machali.
She also gained fame after a video in 2008 captured her successfully fighting a 13-foot-long crocodile near a lake in the park.
Other than being the subject of numerous films, documentaries and books, the tigress was also given a lifetime achievement award after India was estimated to earn $10 million every year for 10 years from tourists who came to the country just to see her. The government of India also issued a stamp last year to commemorate Machali. She had her own Facebook page as well.