About Edward James Jim Corbett
About Edward James Jim Corbett

Edward James Jim Corbett the renowned environmentalist, hunter as well as a front runner in the tiger conservation.

About Edward James Jim Corbett
Early life of Edward James "Jim" Corbett

Edward James Corbett was born of Irish ancestry in the town of Nainital in the Kumaon of the Himalaya (now in the Indian state of Uttarakhand). Jim grew up in a large family of 13 children and was the eighth child of Willam Christopher and Mary Jane Corbett. His parents had moved to Nainital in 1862, after Christopher Corbett had been appointed postmaster of the town. In winters, the family used to move to the foothills, where they owned a cottage named 'Arundel' in Chhoti Haldwani or 'Corbett's Village' now known as Kaladhungi. After his father's death, when Jim was 4 years old, his eldest brother Tom took over as the postmaster of Nainital. From a very young age, Jim was fascinated by the forests and the wildlife around his home in Kaladhungi. At a young age he learned to identify most animals and birds by their calls - owing to his frequent excursions. Over time he became a good tracker and hunter. Jim studied at the Oak Openings School, later merged with Philander Smith College in Nainital. Before he was 19, he quit school and found employment with the Bengal and North Western Railway, initially working as a fuel inspector at Manakpur in the Punjab, and subsequently as a contractor for the trans-shipment of goods across the Ganges at Mokameh Ghat in Bihar.

About Edward James Jim Corbett Hunting man-eating Tigers

Between 1907 and 1938, Corbett tracked and shot a documented 19 tigers and 14 leopards — a total of 33 recorded and documented man-eaters. It is estimated that these big cats had killed more than 1,200 men, women and children. The first tiger he killed, the Champawat Tiger in Champawat, was responsible for 436 documented deaths. He also shot the Panar Leopard, which allegedly killed 400 people. This leopard's skull and dentition showed advanced, debilitating gum disease and tooth decay, such as would limit the animal in killing wild game and drive it towards man-eating. One of the most famous was the man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, which terrorised the pilgrims to the holy Hindu shrines Kedarnath and Badrinath for more than ten years.

Other notable man-eaters he killed were the Talla-Des man-eater, the Mohan man-eater, the Thak man-eater and the Chowgarh tigress.

About Edward James Jim Corbett

Analysis of carcasses, skulls and preserved remains show that most of the man-eaters were suffering from disease or wounds like porcupine quills embedded deep in the skin or old gunshot wounds, which never healed. The Thak man-eating tigress, when skinned by Corbett, revealed two old gunshot wounds; one in her shoulder had become septic, and as Corbett suggested, could have been the reason for the tigress to have turned man-eater. In the foreword of Man Eaters of Kumaon, Corbett writes,

"The wound that has caused a particular tiger to take to man-eating might be the result of a carelessly fired shot and failure to follow up and recover the wounded animal, or be the result of the tiger having lost his temper while killing a porcupine".

Corbett preferred to hunt alone and on foot when pursuing dangerous game. He often hunted with a small dog named Robin, about whom he wrote much in his first book The Man-Eaters of Kumaon. At times, Corbett took great personal risks to save the lives of others. Still remembered in India as a great preservationist, his memories command fond respect in the areas where he worked.

Retiring in Kenya

After 1947, Corbett and his sister Maggie retired to Nyeri, Kenya, where he continued to write and sound the alarm about declining numbers of jungle cats and other wildlife. Jim Corbett was at the Tree Tops Hotel, a hut built on the branches of a giant ficus tree, when Princess Elizabeth stayed there on February 5–6, 1952, at the time of the death of her father, King George VI. Corbett wrote in the hotel's visitors' register: For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess, and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree the next day a Queen— God bless her. Jim Corbett died of a heart attack a few days after he finished writing his sixth book Tree Tops, and was buried at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Nyeri.

About Edward James Jim Corbett

Man-Eaters of Kumaon is a book written by hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. It details the experiences Corbett had in the Kumaon region of India from the 1900s to the 1930s, while hunting man-eating tigers and leopards. One tiger, for example, was responsible for over 400 human deaths. Man-Eaters of Kumaon is the best known of Corbett's books and contains 10 stories of tracking and shooting man-eaters in the Indian Himalayas during the early years of the twentieth century. The text also contains incidental information on flora, fauna and village life. The book was later turned into a film, Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948). In 1986, the BBC produced a docudrama titled Man-Eaters of India with Frederick Treves in the role of Jim Corbett. An IMAX movie, India: Kingdom of the Tiger, based on Corbett's books, was made in 2002. A TV movie (based on Corbett's book, The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag) starring Jason Flemyng was made in 2005.


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