I was thinking of what to discuss next and then it came to me - how about that great hunter and conservationist of India who did so much for the people and wildlife of that beautiful country ~ a man who is a real hero of mine.
Edward James 'Jim' Corbett was born on July 25th, 1875, in Kumaon, that beautiful paradise at the foothills of Himalayas. His father Christopher Corbett was postmaster of the town Naini Tal, and Jim spent his childhood in an area surrounded by beautiful Jungles and dangerous predators. He fell in love with the forest and its animals and since an early age he knew how to mimic animal sounds and track lethal predators.
Whilst being known as a conservationist and big game photographer, Jim Corbett's actual place in history is as one of the best big cat hunters to have ever lived ~ don't get me wrong here ~ Jim Corbett was a true gentleman and a great animal lover ~ he rarely killed an animal that was not troublesome. He resorted largely to removing those dangerous Man-Eaters that terrorized Indian villagers a century ago. Roaming freely without any hindrance these deadly animals governed fear in Indian jungles at that time unlike any fear the simple people of those forests ever had experienced. People would rather die of starvation in their huts than venture out in the open where the tigers growled and cunning leopards lay in waiting.
Between the years 1907 and 1938, Jim Corbett killed nearly a dozen Man-Eaters in India - predators who are estimated to have killed at least 1500 people during their reign of terror. Jim Corbett always took on the most dangerous animals - when everybody else had quit and all hope was lost. He hunted alone and routinely came within five to ten metres of the Man-Eater before killing it. His keen senses enabled him to outdo the most cunning of those lethal cats, that included the Champawat Tigress (his very first kill - the Man-Eating tigress was responsible for more kills than any other single Man-Eater in history - 436!), the Panar Leopard (400 kills again!), the Rudraprayag Leopard (perhaps one of the most cunning and lethal Man-Eaters of all time who preyed upon Hindu pilgrims of that region for over a decade!), the Talla-Des Man-Eater, the Mohan Man-Eater, the Thak Man-Eater and the Chowgarh Tigers. Those were the times when over a hundred thousand tigers roamed freely in India and frankly in many parts it was a matter of whether the tiger or humans would survive!
Despite his prolific hunting skills, Jim Corbett seldom killed an animal for sport. He was a great conservationist and after his retirement from the hunting scene moved to Kenya where he wrote about his Indian adventures in seven highly acclaimed books. He died of a heart attack on 19th April 1955 and was buried at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Nyeri. He spent most of his later days raising alarm about the 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 five remaining subspecies of tigers was named after him: Panthera Tigris Corbetti, better known as Corbett's Tiger.
Below are his books from Wikipedia- must reads that I think are available from Amazon etc -
- Man-eaters of Kumaon:
- First Indian Edition printed Bombay 1944 (Oxford University Press)
- The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag: (OUP) UK 1948
- My India: (OUP) UK/INDIA 1952
- Jungle Lore: (OUP) UK 1953
- The Temple Tiger and more man-eaters of Kumaon: (OUP) UK 1954
- Tree Tops: (OUP) UK 1955
May the great man rest in eternal peace.