Man-Eaters - Page 1&2:Why
Cats Attack | 3&4:
The Real Facts | 5&6: Jim Corbett
| 7&8: The Sundarbans |
9&10: Dudhwa Tiger Reserve | 11&12: Reducing Attacks | 13&14: Tiger Attack Stories
From as early as 1906 Corbett had started receiving requests to assist where tiger attacks took place.
Both the Indian villagers themselves and the British would petition for his assistance, with a typical villager request reading something like this:
"We, the public, venture to suggest that you very kindly take trouble to come to this place and shoot this tiger and save the public from this calamity. For this act of kindness the public will be highly obliged and will pray for your long life and prosperity."
But, no matter how much prayer went into it, Jim Corbett would never kill a tiger where he felt the animal was not a proven habitual killer. One or two attacks did not make it 'proven' and Corbett firmly believed that most tiger attacks were due to misfortune or a tigress protecting her cubs, rather than a true man-eater on the prowl.
Over a thirty-five year period Jim Corbett agreed to hunt and kill another eleven tigers on top of Champawat. Together these animals had killed approximately 1,300 people. He noted that, from his observations, tigers were responsible for daytime human kills only. Kills done at night were normally the result of a leopard attack. At the age of 63 Jim Corbett shot his last tigress. After tracking her for days he finally lured her within shooting range by imitating the call of a male.
The naming of Corbett National Park:
Jim Corbett was instrumental in creating the park which now carries his name. He did this with the help of Sir (later Lord) Malcolm Hailey, Governor of the United Provinces in the early '30s. When the park was ready to open to the public, Hailey had already left India, and the authorities named it 'The Hailey National Park', the first of its kind in India.
Many years after Jim Corbett's death the Indian government made the decision to change the name of its first park to Corbett National Park. In itself this created a source of debate.
Supporters believe the renaming was the best tribute to a great man and that there is no one better qualified to bear that name than Jim Corbett.
Others point out that though he was an ardent conservationist, Corbett was also involved with the Kenyan-based Safariland hunting company. During the period from 1948 to 1951 he was a director of the company in a land which offered some of the best hunting grounds in the world.
Outfitters like Safariland employed dozens of professional hunters and guides. These people looked after the game using rigid and strict standards, but there is some evidence which suggests their practices also helped ensure the future of much wildlife.
It was not in their interests to see the game ravaged and exterminated, as it provided their income. Granted, it is not an income many conservationists could ever approve of, but the fact remains that it was only after the 1970 hunting ban was imposed in Kenya that wildlife numbers plummeted. Poachers then removed almost all the tuskers, white and black rhinos, leopards and cheetah.
It is also worth considering that there were many hunters who became conservationists in their lifetimes. Corbett is just one of these, others include Theodore Roosevelt, F.C. Selous (of Selous National Park in Tanzania), C.J.P. Ionides, E.P. Gee, J.A. Hunter. Anthony Dyer, John Kingsley Heath, Eric Sherbrooke Walker, F.W. Champion and Eric Risley.
On top of this, Corbett, with the help of 100s of his friends in the villages around the park, fought a one man war against poachers until he left India in 1947.
Undoubtedly Jim Corbett will most be remembered for his fantastic tales of hunting man-eating tigers and leopards. But he was also a naturalist, author and above all a humanitarian who gave himself free without expecting anything in return. He loved the poor villagers, ate their food, slept in their thatched huts while after man-eaters, learnt to speak their dialects and helped them all his life with land, shelter, food and money while many English men snubbed at the Indians, looked down at them or cursed their presence. Corbett is still a folk hero in Kumaon, worshipped as a hero and saviour of the poor. Some of his books have been part of the school curriculum in India for decades. The Indians still love him, just like the Kenyans love Karen Blixen who too showed compassion towards the Kikuyus while other Europeans treated them like animals.
The image shown on this page is from Corbett's 'My India'. It was taken by Jean Ibbotson while Jim Corbett was staying with them during 1948. Corbett obtained this photo from the Ibbotsons and sent it to Oxford University Press with the manuscript of My India in 1950. The book was published in 1952, and the image was printed in the back cover of the dust wrapper. It is used here with kind permission of Jerry Alexander Jaleel, Director, The Jim Corbett Foundation (1994).
With Thanks To Jerry Alexander Jaleel,
Director, The Jim Corbett Foundation (1994).