Queen of the Jungle: Mataram

Every tiger is special and precious but there are only handfuls of them who are as loved, cared and respected as Mataram.

When I first visited Pench in November 2020, I knew very little about Mataram and was quite surprised how I failed to notice her.

Even after three trips and 25 odd safaris that were primarily focussed on her, I wasn't able to find her until last November.

When tigers were on the verge of extinction, she repleted the jungles with an army of tigers.

While on my trip to Pench in January 2022, I was confident to see her as I had seen her walking like a queen last November. I had thought that we would get to see her for one more season but destiny had other plans. On 15th January, Mataram took her last breath and I was fortunate enough to see her for the last time and also attend her funeral.

This felt like a personal loss to me as I was madly in love with her extraordinary life and contribution to the forests of Central India.

No tiger, except perhaps from her bloodline, would be able to match her. She will always remain in my heart.

Amit Pandya is a renowned wildlife photographer. Follow him on Instagram at: Amit_pandya_photography