Jim Corbett: The hunter who found the tiger, the gentleman with a big heart

By Priyanka Tiwari July 25, 2023 6:16 PM IST

in this land full of legends
i am also a legend
Tiger is also a legend
so many times
when he can’t hide
any good place
so he slowly wakes up
and sits down
In the guise of a story.

This is an excerpt from Kedarnath Singh’s famous poem titled Bagh. There are many stories, legends and countless experiences in our country regarding the tiger. The tiger comes like this, hunts like this, it is thirsty for human blood. He kills in one fell swoop. He is the ‘Cruel Big Cat’. Don’t know how many true and false stories have a tiger recorded in it. There was a time when tigers became uncountable victims of cheetahs. The number of these hunts is told with pride, but there was one hunter who killed a lot of tigers and leopards. About 31 tiger-cheetahs hunted. But he used to hunt only those tigers and leopards who had become man-eaters. He had his own principles of hunting. He got to know the behavior of the tiger closely while hunting the tiger and played a major role in eradicating the fear of the tiger through his books. He is the hunter, James Edward Corbett whom the world knows as Jim Corbett.

Jim Corbett is such a hunter who revealed countless secrets of the tiger world and became the protector of the tiger. He established the first National Park on August 8, 1936, trying to conserve the dwindling population of tigers. This Hali National Park was named after Jim Corbett in 1952. Spread over an area of ​​1318 square kilometers in the state of Uttarakhand, Jim Corbett National Park is home to thousands of species of birds, plants and animals.

Jim Corbett’s ancestors left Ireland and settled in India three generations ago. Jim Corbett was born on 25 July 1875 in Nainital in this Irish family. His father died when Jim was only 6 years old. His childhood was spent hunting with arrows and slingshot in the forest of Kaladhungi. Due to lack of financial resources, at the age of 19, he did not get the job of Fuel Inspector in Bengal and North Western Railway. He worked in the Railways for about 20 years. Then he left the job and started contracting in the railways. Jim Corbett, who had great reverence for India, had gone to his native country in the last years of his life. Jim Corbett died on 19 April 1955 in Kenya.

Jim Corbett, fond of hunting since childhood, was the most famous hunter of his time. His principle was that he did not hunt common animals. They used to hunt only man-eating tigers or leopards. It was famous about him that if any man-eating tiger or cheetah was troubling the public and he was asked for help by writing a letter, he would reach there. Everyone used to believe that if the letter is written then Jim Corbett will definitely come.

His most famous hunt is the man-eater tigress hunt in the Kumaon forest. It is said that the tigress who hunted more than 234 tigers in Nepal had come to Kumaon. After coming to Kumaon, the number of its victims had gone up to 436. Jim Corbett had put some conditions to kill this man-eating tigress. He had said that apart from him all the hunters would be called back from the forest. However, Jim Corbett had to wait for a few months to hunt this tigress. He has written the book ‘Man-eaters of Kumaon’ on this hunt. In his book, Jim has discussed the experience of hunting and the nature of tigers. When he inspected the body of the man-eating tigress after the hunt, he found that there were marks of injury inflicted by bullets and other weapons on his face and body.

After such experiences, Jim Corbett came to the conclusion that whether it is a tiger or a cheetah, these animals which are considered ferocious are not man-eaters, but when humans attack them, they get uprooted and start hunting humans. In his book, he has written that after being a man-eater, the fear of humans vanishes from the tiger’s mind. Due to this fear, they attack even during the day, otherwise tigers do not attack during the day. On the other hand, no matter how many man-eaters the leopards become, the fear of humans remains equal in them. That’s why they hunt in the dark of night.

Jim Corbett believed that there is no need to save humans from tigers and leopards, but tigers and leopards have to be saved from humans. He started a campaign for the conservation of these animals, however, later his apprehension proved true and tigers were on the verge of extinction all over the world. If the campaign is not run, then like the leopard, even the tiger does not survive.

Jim Corbett, who studied the behavior of the tiger, did not agree with the tiger being called ferocious and blood-thirsty. They say that the tiger usually hunts only at night, in the day it does not tease anyone unnecessarily. That’s why he doesn’t do anything to the people who go to the forest. People don’t even know that the tiger was sitting in the middle of the grass. He did not see any such case where the tiger had unnecessarily harmed any human being. He writes in his book that all the hunters will agree with him that the tiger is a ‘gentleman’ with a big heart. It is the human being who destroys its natural habitat and prey and forces it to become dreaded.

This assessment is also correct that an environmentalist like Jim Corbett had to return to his country after being disturbed by the cruelty towards wild animals like tigers and leopards in India and the neglect of humans towards forests, while he had reverence for India. He was forced to go to Kenya due to his desire to return to his origin and being troubled by the plight of forests and wild animals in India. Today there has been a satisfactory increase in the number of tigers in the country, but tiger poaching continues unabated in the tiger state of Madhya Pradesh. Cheetah has returned to Madhya Pradesh but her life has become impossibly difficult. In such a situation, we have to learn from the words of environmentalists like Jim Corbett and be more sensitive towards forests and wildlife.

Tags: Corbett Tiger Reserve, environment, tiger attack