Happy Birthday to the World most famous Hunter-turned-conservationist Jim Corbett

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Jim Corbett - Tiger Hunter
Jim Corbett - Tiger Hunter

Happy Birthday Jim Corbett the messiah for many in the jungles of British India specially at United Province. A Conservationist and naturalist with human heart. Author of some of the finest Books on Jungle and man eaters.

James Edward “Jim” ‘Corbett CIE VD (25 July 1875 – 19 April 1955) was a British-Indian hunter and tracker-turned-conservationist, author and naturalist, famous for hunting a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India.

Corbett held the rank of colonel in the British Indian Army and was frequently called upon by the government of the United Provinces, now the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to kill man-eating tigers and leopards that were preying on people in the nearby villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions.

Corbett was an avid photographer and after his retirement authored Man-Eaters of Kumaon, Jungle Lore, and other books recounting his hunts and experiences, which enjoyed critical acclaim and commercial success. Later on in life, Corbett spoke out for the need to protect India’s wildlife from extermination and played a key role in creating a national reserve for the endangered Bengal tiger by using his influence to persuade the provincial government to establish it. In 1957 the national park was renamed Jim Corbett National Park in his honour.
Jim Corbett resided in the Gurney House along with his sister Maggie Corbett. They sold the house to Mrs. Kalavati Varma, before leaving for Kenya in November 1947. The house has been transformed into a museum and is known as the Jim Corbett Museum.

After 1947, Corbett and his sister Maggie retired to Nyeri, Kenya, where he continued to write and sound the alarm about declining numbers of wild cats and other wildlife. Corbett was at the Tree Tops, a hut built on the branches of a giant ficus tree, when Princess Elizabeth stayed there on 5–6 February 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.

Corbett died of a heart attack a few days after he finished his sixth book, Tree Tops, and was buried at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Nyeri. His memories were kept intact in the form of the meeting place Moti House, which Corbett had built for his friend Moti Singh, and the Corbett Wall, a long wall (approximately 4.5 miles (7.2 km)) built around the village to protect crops from wild animals.

Man-eaters of Kumaon was a great success in India, the United Kingdom and the United States, the first edition of the American Book-of-the-Month Club being 250,000 copies. It was later translated into 27 languages. Corbett’s fourth book, Jungle Lore, is considered his autobiography.

The Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, India was renamed in his honour in 1957. He had played a key role in establishing this protected area in the 1930s.

In 1968, one of the five remaining subspecies of tigers was named after him: Panthera tigris corbetti, the Indochinese tiger, also called Corbett’s tiger.

In 1994 and 2002, the long-neglected graves of Corbett and his sister (both in Kenya) were repaired and restored by Jerry A. Jaleel, founder and director of the Jim Corbett Foundation.

India too put a tribute to this evergreen youngman of jungle by setting up a national park under his name.

Jim Corbett National Park, which is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve lies in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The magical landscape of Corbett is well known and fabled for its tiger richness. Established in the year 1936 as Hailey National Park, Corbett has the glory of being India’s oldest and most prestigious National Park. It is also being honored as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973. This unique tiger territory is best known as the father who gave birth of the Project Tiger in India to protect the most endangered species and the Royal of India called Tigers.

Books

Jim Corbett with the slain Bachelor of Powalgarh.Jungle Stories. Privately published in 1935 (only 100 copies)
Contents: Wild Life in the Village: An Appeal, The Pipal Pani Tiger, The Fish of My Dreams, A Lost Paradise, The Terror that Walks by Night, Purna Girl and Its Mysterious Lights, The Chowgarh Tigers

Man-Eaters of Kumaon. Oxford University Press, Bombay 1944
Contents: Author’s note (causes of man-eating), The Champawat Maneater, Robin, Chowgarh Tigers, The Bachelor of Powalgarh, The Mohan Maneater, Fish of my dreams, The Kanda Maneater, The Pipal Pani tiger, The Thak Man-eater, Just Tigers

The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag. Oxford University Press, 1947
Contents: The Pilgrim Road, The Man-Eater, Terror, Arrival, Investigation, The First Kill, Locating the Leopard, The Second Kill, Preparations, Magic, A Near Escape, The Gin Trap, The Hunters Hunted, Retreat, Fishing Interlude, Death of a Goat, Cyanide Poisoning, Touch and Go, A Lesson in Caution, A Wild Boar Hunt, Vigil on a Pine Tree, My Night of Terror, Leopard Fights Leopard, A Shot in the Dark, Epilogue

My India. Oxford University Press, 1952
Contents: Dedication & Introduction, The Queen of the Village, Kunwar Singh, Mothi, Pre Red Tape Days, The Law of the Jungle, The Brothers, Sultana: India’s Robin Hood, Loyalty, Budhu, Lalajee, Chamari, Life at Mokameh Ghat

Jungle Lore. Oxford University Press, 1953
Contents: Introduction by Martin Booth, Dansay, Learning to Shoot, Magog, Looking Back, Jungle Encounters, Categories, Jungle Lore, Calls of the Jungle, School Days / Cadets, Forest Fire & Beats, Game Tracks, Jungle Sensitiveness

The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumaon. Oxford University Press, 1954
Contents: The Temple Tiger, The Muktesar Man-Eater, The Panar Man-Eater, The Chuka Man-Eater, The Talla Des Man-Eater, Epilogue

Tree Tops. Oxford University Press, 1955 (short 30-page novella)
Jim Corbett’s India – Selections by R. E. Hawkins. Oxford University Press, 1978
Contents: Introduction, Kunwar Singh, Schooldays, Loyalty, Life at Mokameh Ghat, Mothi, The Law of the Jungles, The Muktesar Man-eater, The Panar Leopard, Goongi (previously unpublished), The Pipal Pani Tiger, The Pilgrim Road, Terror, Vigil on a Pine Tree, The Chowgarh Tigers, The Bachelor of Powalgarh, The Fish of My Dreams, Robin, Wild Life in the Village-An Appeal (previously unpublished), The Mohan Man-Eater, Just Tigers, On Man-Eating, Looking Back

My Kumaon: Uncollected Writings. Oxford University Press, 2012
Contents: Publisher’s Note; Timeline; Preface: ‘How I Came To Write’; A Life Well Lived: An Introduction To Jim Corbett By Lord Hailey; Section One: The Unpublished Corbett—The Night Jar’s Egg; ‘One Of Us’; From My Jungle Camp; The Rudraprayag Letters; Corbett On The Man-Eating Leopard Of Rudraprayag; The Making Of Corbett’s My India: Correspondence With His Editors; ‘Shooting’ Tigers: Corbett And The Camera; Wildlife In The Village: An Environmental Appeal; An Englishman In India; Life In Kenya; Section Two: Corbett And His Audience-‘The Artlessness Of His Art’; The Man Revealed: Corbett In His Writings; The Universal Appeal Of Jim Corbett: Letters And Reviews; Deliverance For Rudraprayag: Reactions To The Slaying Of The Man-Eating Leopard By Corbett; Corbett’s Influence: Man-Eaters Of Kumaon And The Chindwara Court Case; Epigraph