JIM CORBETT: Slayer of Man-eaters (Tigers, Leopards) and Writer
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In Memory of JIM CORBETT
THIS write-up is a tribute to the memory of the late Jim Corbett. Supposedly my intention was to publish this on the 25th of July which coincides with his 133rd birthday anniversary but circumstances beyond control prevented me from doing so.
Edward James "Jim" Corbett- better known as Jim Corbett - saw the first light of day on the 25th of July 1875. He was 2nd to the last of 9 children born to Mary Jane and William Christopher Corbett. He grew up in present-day state of Utaranchal in North India. Of Irish stock, his parents were British immigrants to colonial India. Jim Corbett- accomplished Indian-born British hunter, conservationist, naturalist, colonel (in the British-Indian army), employee (in the Bengal and North Western Railway, slayer of man-eaters, honored as saint and writer, died on the 19th of April 1955 of heart attack at the age of 79.
Corbett enjoyed life so much in the wilderness. An accomplished hunter and fishing enthusiast early in life, he took to big game photography later on. In the forest he could easily identify all forms and varieties of flora and fauna. Ghasnashyam- a fellow MoraChat contributor- testified that Corbett once demonstrated convincingly in a hall the different roaring sounds of a tiger- hungry, happy and going to rest. Corbett was truly a master in copying tiger and other animals call. Another MoraChat master- Piya84 volunteered the information that Corbett was able to flush out from its lair and killed the male leopard man-eater of Rudraprayag by mimicking and sending her female leopard mating calls.
In time Corbett's admiration for tigers and leopards grew. Thus he resolved never to shoot and kill them unless they turned man-eaters or posed a threat to cattle. He preferred to hunt alone and on foot when pursuing dangerous game. Often he had with him his small dog- Robin- when hunting.
Corbett had mastered the art of hunting so well that he could tract and get close to his prey some 20 meters away without being noticed. As much as possible he wanted to get very near his target to make sure it's the correct prey. He has killed once a wrong prey and he regretted it so much.
From the year 1907 up to 1938, he tracked and killed at least 12 man-eaters which devoured more than 1,500 men, women and children. Under the British-Indian Army, Corbett held the rank of Colonel. He was connected with the Bengal and North Western Railway under the government of united provinces now Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
A man of great character, Corbett upon request would take leave from his work and go tracking and hunting for days the dreaded man-eater.
In a nutshell below are accounts of tigers and leopards which have turned man-eaters that Corbett has shot and killed in keeping with his vow:
(1) Champawat Tigress-
A Bengal tiger shot very near Gaida gorge in 1907 by Jim Corbett. The Nepalese army drove her across the border into India after killing over 200 people in Nepal. She settled in Kumaon district in India where she terrorized villagers. She killed and ate a total of 436 people including those from Nepal. That very day she was shot by Corbett, she has just made a kill of a 16-year old girl. Postmortem reveals that this female man-eater has long-suffered broken canine teeth
(2) Panar Leopard -
A male leopard which is alleged to have killed 400 persons over a span of several years in the Kumaon district of Northern India. It was driven to killing people after it was wounded by a poacher rendering it unable to hunt its normal prey. Hunted and killed in 1910 by famed big cat hunter and author Jim Corbett.
(3) Talla-Des Man-eater -
A female tiger which killed 150 people. It roamed in Talla-Des and its environs for 8 years before it was shot to death in April 1929. It had 2 grown-up cubs when Corbett hunted it down in Talla-Kot or Boyal..
(4) Mohan Man-eater -
A tiger which roamed in Kosi Valley and has eaten a number of persons. Corbett shot it to death in the summer of 1930.
(5) Chuka Tigress -
With 2 small cubs, it had Ladhiya Valley within Chuka Village as its home. Claiming to have eaten a number of Indian villagers, Corbett tracked and killed it in April 1937.
(6) Thak Man-eater Tigress -
It was killed in November, 1938 in Thak Village. Corbett at age 63 stalked with little rest and sleep for almost 3 weeks, climbed the steep path to Thak several times and eventually bagged his prey at point-blank range. When skinned. Corbett discovered 2 gunshot wounds in the man-eater's body which never healed.
(7) Chowgarh Tigress and her sub-adult cub -
These man-eaters have devoured 64 people in Eastern Kumaon spread over 5-year period. Corbett fatally shot the animal (Mother Tigress) on April 11, 1930 in Kala Agar. Postmortem reveals the animal claws and front teeth were all worn down and one canine tooth broken.
(8) Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag -
This is an elderly male (Wikipedia) leopard which is recorded to have killed 125 villagers in India's Kumaon district. Of all the man-eaters, this leopard is the most famous for terrorizing the pilgrims and the Holy Hindu Shrine Kedarmath and Badrinath for more than 10 solid years. Autopsy showed the man-eater was suffering from serious gum recession and tooth loss making it harder for him to kill its normal prey so it turned to killing people who were much easier to kill. Upon request of the British Parliament, legendary hunter, Corbett stalked and killed it in the autumn of 1925. In the town of Rudraprayag there is a signboard which marks the spot where the leopard was shot. People there consider Jim Corbett to be a sadhu (saint).
Corbett- despite his prolific hunting skills- never killed an animal for sports. He was a great conservationist. He moved to Kenya after retirement when he could no longer hunt because of his age. In Kenya he put his Indian adventures to writing books. Corbett produced a total of 7 books which were all highly acclaimed. He spent likewise his waking hours to raising alarm about the sad plight of animals in India. In 1957 India's first national park in the Kumaon region was named in his honor. In 1968 one of the remaining subspecies of tigers was named after him: Panthera Tigris Corbetti, better known as Corbett's tiger.
He was buried upon his death at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Nyeri.
Corbett's books are enumerated below:
1) Man-eaters of Kumaon, 2) The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, 3) My India, 4) Jungle Lore, 5) The Temple Tiger and more Man-eaters of Kumaon, 6) Tree Tops, 7) Man-eaters of Kumaon and the Temple Tiger
ADDENDUM: Mudit 29 hours ago
Nick, I would like to point out that Corbett was as great a human being as he was a writer or hunter. People of the village, Chhoti Haldwani near Nainital, revere him a lot. His muzzle loader gun, Moti House (the house he built for Moti Singh) and the wall he built to protect his village and tenants is being used by the villagers to promote community based eco-tourism. Even after his death, he is in service. (visit www.corbettvillage.in)
nain 2 months ago
nik,can u plz give any information about the Moti house and Choupat built by corbett.(Dear readers: Please furnish information or link about Corbett's Moti house and Choupat to satisfy nain. The Author)
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