Machhli, 12, has given birth to nine, darshan (audience) to about 100 million visitors and earned a lot for her home.
And for all this and much more (read: contribution to the conservation of wildlife in India), she has become the first tigress to win a lifetime achievement award. Machhli the tigress was born in 1997 at the Ranthambore national park.
Initiated by the Tour Operators for Tigers (TOFT), a UK-based non-profit body, the award will be handed over in New Delhi on Friday. Her “friend” and sanctuary’s field director Shafat Hussain, will receive the award on her behalf.
Julian Mathews, founder and chairman of TOFT, said Machhli was selected for the award on the basis of several factors. “She has been spotted by over 100 million tourists. She has also been captured on camera, allowing tens of millions more to watch her on television. And the revenue generated has greatly benefited the sanctuary,” he said.
Forest guard and tracker Phool Chand, who has been following Machhli for about a decade and has a strong bond with the animal, said, “I am very excited... It will encourage every tiger lover.”
Chief Wildlife Warden at the Ranthambore Park R.N. Mehrotra said, “This sends a signal to other conservationists and forest-loving people — that they too can do similar things in their areas.”
Among those who were fortunate enough to witness Machhli’s grace are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former US president Bill Clinton and a number of politicians, industrialists and Bollywood stars.