Celebrated Tigers of India: Machli and Noor of Ranthambore
Tigers have been a lifeline for India for a very long time. In 2018-2019 India generated a revenue of about INR 27 crore from 1.9 million tourists. Keeping the economic evaluation aside, the people living on outskirts have had a major role in making our tiger reserves successful. In one of the interviews I was told that unless the people step up and take ownership of their tigers and wildlife, no national park, sanctuary or reserve can sustain in the longer run.
Tigers have a very curious sense of behavior. This implies that they have a lot of really cool strategies that help them to survive, especially when the Mother Tiger has to look after not only her survival but also the survival of the cubs. Mother Tigers are known to look after her well being, either by avoiding conflicts or choosing to mate with a dominant tiger to be able to protect her children. This mating can be a real mating, in which case, she bears the children of the Dominant Male or can be Fake mating in which case, the Dominant Male may not kill her children. However, even while Fake Mating, the Mother Tiger has to be extremely cautious because the Dominant Male can sense the Fake Mating and in return kill her, rendering her unable to save her children anymore.
Well, today we will read a little about a mother who used this technique to save her children.
Who doesn’t know about the famous Ranthambore in Rajasthan. Ranthambore was a former royal hunting ground that was recreated into the National Park we know of today. Ranthambore is at the forefront of Tiger conservation and preservation for a few years. It is also the home of two of our feature tigresses today.
Ranthambore is very well known for its wildlife, namely tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. With multiple picturesque locations for both adventurous and romantic outings, Ranthambore has to be everyone’s favourite.
Ranthambore’s ticket to fame was their heartbeat tigress Machli. Machli got her name from her mother and the region she ruled in. She was the most photogenic tigress the world has ever seen. She was awarded TOFT (Travel operators for tigers) lifetime achievement award by a joint collaboration between BBC and TOFT in 2009 along with another tiger. They were the first tigers ever and the only since to receive this award. She was responsible for attracting tourists from all around the world and generating a huge amount of income for the tourism department of India. She was not only photographed but also a part of multiple documentaries of BBC and National Geographic. One of them was called ‘The land of Tigers’ by National Geographic.
Machli never stopped amazing people. Everyone who came to see her, were always delighted. Some even witnessed some of the greatest stories of her, unraveling in front of their eyes. There are instances where she has been captured killing a deer, or killing a 14 foot long crocodile to save her cubs. In fact, the most incredible trait about her was not the fact that she would pose for the camera, or walk really close to the safari jeeps but rather the fact that she was an amazing mother. Although she lost a litter, and only 4 out of the 5 litters survived, all of her cubs grew up to be extremely famous for one trait or another. A documentary was made about one of her cubs who was killed in a rather unfortunate collision with a train. The documentary was called ‘The broken Tail’. Her last litter was born when she was really old. When reported the field director had to come all the way to confirm that they were indeed Machli’s cubs. Even though she was
really old, she never gave up. The story of this litter is something that is very close to the hearts of local people and forest officials of Ranthambore. The children grew up to be healthy and have already had litters of their own. Machli was well known for using the safari jeeps as a cover to hunt, the tactic was picked up by her children as well. Today, Arrowhead is one of the greatest tigers in Ranthambore, keeping the legacy of her grandmother alive. Although Machli died in 2016, she lived a very healthy 19 years and contributed immensely not only to the beautiful tiger population of Ranthambore but also to the wildlife tourism of India. A contribution we will not forget for ages to come.
An offspring of Machli’s younger sister, Choti was Noor or officially T39. Noor has been a delight in her own. Noor received her name from a book published by the Rajasthan Forest Minister Bina Kak called ‘Face to Face: Tiger Families of Ranthambore’. It is the only book to account for all tigers and cubs to roam in a tiger reserve.
Noor was bestowed with the Title of ‘The Great Mother’ she had 3 cubs in each of her 5 litters and all survived the test of time and grew up to be very healthy tigers. Noor is said to be very photogenic just like Machli and is also extremely smart. One of the very famous Stories about Noor was when Ustad had to be sent to the zoo on account of his behaviour, Noor had given birth to a new litter of cubs. Knowing that another dominant
male would eventually come and kill her cubs, to avoid this, she hid the cubs safely and then set out to find the new dominant male. Only after she gained his trust by mating with him, did she reveal her children, resulting in the safe keeping of the cubs.
Out of the many great qualities that Noor is known for, she is also known for being very cooperative and quiet. She avoids as many confrontations as possible for she has to be healthy to be able to take care of her children. Another very captivating story about Noor is from October, 2019. Three male tigers wanted to be with Noor, however when two of them started fighting, Noor chose the one that didn't fight. The reason for doing so is still unknown, but if I had to make a guess it would be that she could depend on him, because he would not get into a fight unnecessarily and hence would not be injured easily.
Another few famous tigers include Noor’s daughter Sultana who is often seen very close to the safari jeeps and Machli’s Daughter Krishna often seen walking around with her children.
Mr. Vipul Jain was a big inspiration behind gathering the information for this piece. He is a photographer, youtuber and a naturalist all combined in one. All the images and videos that are displayed and linked in the piece were generously given by him. Mr. Vipul Jain was born
and brought up in Ranthambore and has extended his expertise to multiple tiger lovers from all spheres of the world. He has been a reference for over 13 books and helped capture the perfect pictures of the tigers for multiple photographers. He has been a naturalist with Ranthambore since 1990 and I am really grateful that he took out the time for this article!
Stay tuned for the amazing story of the calm father of Bandhavgarh and his son Bamera tomorrow.