The legendary British hunter Edward James Corbett needs no introduction. He was a hunter, tracker, naturalist, conservationist, and author. As a pioneer conservationist, he played the most important role in the establishment of India’s oldest national park Jim Corbett National Park in Nainital District. He was a colonel in the British Indian army who was frequently called upon to save the helpless people in the nearby villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions from man-eating tigers and leopards.
Those days hunting was a very popular sport. So Jim was no exception too. Initially, he had killed for joy as well. He even said he would kill a snake before killing any man-eater due to some superstition. But even then he was different than any other hunters.
It is not very common that the words hunter and conservationist are used in the same sentence to refer to the same person. But Jim Corbett earned every bit of it. In all his stories he never failed to show respect and compassion for the man-eaters he was forced to kill to save the lives of the hapless villagers. It never escapes our attention that these occurrences of man-eaters were not common and they were themselves struggling to survive. Human played a role in the creation of those man-eaters in most of the cases, i.e. wounding them severely with bullets without killing them. The way he described and talked about even the most dangerous man-eater we ought to feel sympathetic and sad for its demise at the end of every story. It is because of people like him we still have some tigers or wild animals left in our country.
Just Tigers bundles up 14 of such thrilling stories about shooting man-eaters and some of them killed even more than 400 humans. These stories are taken from his popular books “Man-eaters of Kumayun”, “The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumayun“, and “Jungle Lore”.
These novels are not only the account of thrilling adventures or tragic deaths. All of them contains an imagery of the difficult lives of the villagers in the range of Himalayas. These are the stories about humans bravery, struggles with nature, helplessness, and sometimes about their cowardice too. In one case the younger sister lost her voice upon seeing her sister being dragged away by a tiger. She regains her voice and gets back to normal life only after Jim Corbett showed her the dead tiger’s skin. In another story, the old grandmother requests Jim to use her as a bait after her only remaining family, her grandson was killed and eaten alive. One father alone set out to look for his son in the dark night even though he knew he could be killed any time. In one case, no one went to look for the remains of the victim for funeral rituals because they were so scared.
In most of the stories, the sorry state of the health system was very much evident. Many victims died even after being rescued because there was no hospital or not even the first aid available at those poor villages. Things haven’t changed much though. Many villagers of Himalayas still need to travel for miles just to avail the basic medical attention.
The recent tragic incident of Avani, the tigress’s plotted murder made this book more relevant to me. Back then even those illiterate villagers showed due respect to those wild beasts. If we, the present generation don’t realise our own mistakes soon the balance of nature will be lost and only we are responsible for that.
This book is a must read. I recommend this book to nature lovers, thriller and adventure lovers or fiction readers alike. We all need to learn a thing or two from our past. The bonus in these stories are the tips of how to track the tigers or how to read the signs of its presence by noticing other animal’s behaviour. The special mention of Jim’s hunting companion dog Robin makes it even more interesting.
Author(s): Jim Corbett
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Release: July 2018
Genre: Non Fiction/WIldlife/Adventure
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