# Day 284 (Corbett Stories I)

For long the image of Jim Corbett in my mind was that of a “hunter”. This was mostly due to an association with the memory of a school-hindi-textbook lesson based on one of his many jungle encounters. The story was a translation of one of his famous tales from “Man-eaters of Kumaon” ~ the stalking and shooting of a man-eating tigress at Champawat in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas. It was a pretty riveting tale of a tigress which had begun its killings in the late 19th Century and then gone on to terrorise villages from Nepal to Kumaon with 436 recorded human killings. In 1907 the tigress killed a young girl in Champawat; Corbett had followed the trail, found the tiger and shot it dead the next day. This was the first of the 33 tigers (some man-eaters and some not) Jim Corbett is credited with having hunted down and killed. Such was the reputation of his hunting successes that the then government would call upon him to kill any man-eating tiger or leopard that harassed people in the villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon region. These hunting feats also earned him a lot of respect and fame from the locals, some of who revered him as a saint. That image of a ‘tiger-hunter’ stayed dominant even though our teacher did tell us that later in the 1920s he gave up hunting with the gun, choosing instead to shoot with the camera. Corbett the hunter then turned into Corbett the conservationist and naturalist. In the 1930s he played a key role in setting up of India’s first National Park to preserve and protect the endangered Bengal Tiger. It was then called Hailey National Park (estd in 1936) and was renamed after Jim Corbett by the Indian government in 1957 to honour his contribution to the cause of wildlife protection.
That man-eating-tigress tale also became one of the reasons why the prospect of going to a forested area looking out for tigers was not an appealing thought. However sooner or later you make your peace with such fears (and the reluctance they breed!) and so after a couple of jinxed efforts we finally found ourselves driving to that tiger land~ the Jim Corbett National Park. Friends and family who had been there earlier did advise us that to truly experience the jungle you need to stay at least one night in one of the forest guest houses either at Bijrani or Dhikala but we decided to play it safe by staying in a resort outside the actual forest and booked the ‘jeep-safari’ for the jungle trip.
(to be contd…)

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About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
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