“Corbett National Park is one the best getaways from Delhi” such is the popularity of one of the biggest Tiger Conservation Park. In my childhood days I use to wonder ‘If he was a hunter, why would they name a conservation park after him?”. Many of us still remain on unaware (especially my generation) on questions like ‘Who was Jim Corbett ?’, ‘Why is there this big conservation park named after him?’, “What makes him so special?”. Yes he was special.
Often we paint all Britishers in the same colour (Angrez!).They too came in different shades. Over time, reading books of Jim Corbett /about Corbett. I have developed a deep respect for the Carpett Sahib. We would love share many of his stories. Let’s start with his own words-
“In My India, the India I know, there are four hundred million people, ninety per cent of whom are simple, honest, brave, loyal, hard-working souls whose daily prayer to God, and to whatever Government is in power, is to give them security of life and of property to enable them to enjoy the fruits of their labours.
“……….it gave me an opportunity of indulging in one of my hobbies ———– The study of human beings.”
“Starting out as the sun was rising and moving noiselessly on my base feet, I saw ………….. All the animals and all the crawling creatures ……., until a day came when I was able to identify each by the track it made.”
(Corbett Jungle Lore 50)
“Having acquired the ability – through fear – of being able to pinpoint sound, that is, to assess the exact direction and distance of all sounds heard, I was able to follow the movement of unseen leopards and tigers, whether when in the jungle by daylight, or in bed at night, for the situation of our home enabled me to hear all the jungle sounds.”
“A man-eating tiger is a tiger that has been compelled, through stress of circumstances beyond its control, to adopt a diet alien to it”
“This permanent injury to her teeth – the result of a gunshot wound – Jim Corbett had prevented her from killing her natural prey, and had been the cause of her becoming a maneater.”
“This was her four hundred and thirty sixth human kill and she was quite accustomed to being disturbed at her meals by rescue parties, but this I think, was the first time she had been followed persistently and she now began to show her resentment by growling”
“That night, for the first time in years, the people of Sanouli slept, and have continued to sleep, free from fear”
“With the exception of professional beggars, the poor in India can only eat when they work.”
“India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna. Tigers are large hearted gentlemen”
“Had Champion shot his tigers with a rifle instead of with a camera his trophies would long since have lost their hair and been consigned to the dust bin, where as the records made by his camera are a constant source of pleasure to him and are of interest to sportsmen in all parts of the world.”
“It was hard for us to imagine ourselves living anywhere but in India. Our home and the home of our ancestors, which was so dearly loved with its simple, kindly people with its beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers all seemed a part of ourselves.”
(In a letter to her sister Maggi, when leaving India).