The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

Col Edward James “Jim” Corbett

Photo added by Matty

Col Edward James “Jim” Corbett

  • Birth 25 Jul 1875 Uttarakhand, India
  • Death 19 Apr 1955 Nyeri, Nyeri, Kenya
  • Burial Nyeri, Nyeri, Kenya
  • Memorial ID 49663837

Author, hunter, wildlife conservationist. Corbett, of Irish ancestry, was born in the Kumaon area of India and spent a lifetime in the outdoors, becoming an expert and admirer of nature in the jungles and wilds of the rugged foothills of the Himalayas. At the request of government officials, he began hunting man-eating leopards and tigers in India in 1907. With his background, he knew the habits as well as the language of the wildlife, enabling him to identify the alarm calls of certain birds, deer and monkeys that signaled the presence of predators such as the leopard and tiger, allowing Corbett to track their position and movements even when he was unable to actually see them. He was also an expert shot with a rifle and a superb stalker and tracker, essential skills for survival when following, or being followed by, a man-eating leopard or tiger. Most hunters, experienced or otherwise, refused to hunt the man-eaters, calling it sheer suicide. Few native people of these regions owned guns, and most of those were old and rusty black powder rifles that could misfire or even explode. Due to the deadly risks, few attempted to stop these man-eaters. And due to the courage, expertise and perseverance required, very few succeeded. Corbett's dangerous pursuit of man-eaters continued for more than 30 years, all in his spare time from his job. His challenges were many, sometimes appearing insurmountable, hunting and traveling on foot for miles on end in rugged, remote areas where the small villages had neither roads for automobiles nor telephones to aide in locating his quarry. And these big-cats are intelligent, unpredictable animals, able to strike day or night, so mobile and wide-ranging that you might say Corbett was trying to find a needle in a thousand moving haystacks. Winds sweeping down from the Himalayan Mountains could change hot daytime weather to cold at night. Except on a few occasions with his little dog Robin, he pursued the man-eaters alone, never seeking any financial rewards, stating that he was suitably paid if he saved one human life. The 33 documented man-eating leopards and tigers that Corbett was able to stop were credited with claiming more than 1,500 human lives [The Panar man-eater (leopard) and the Champawat man-eater (tiger) had claimed more than 400 victims each.] while causing months, or even years, of paralyzing fear. In areas terrorized by a man-eater, people attempted to travel only in groups, and only in daylight, when leaving their villages. Corbett sympathized with these people, calling them very brave, and said their fear cannot be imagined unless you have experienced it. [Corbett's accounts of these dangerous adventures make most thrillers look like nursery rhymes.] As an example, the village of Thak, which has existed for hundreds of years, was entirely abandoned during the time of the man-eater, with doors left eerily wide open, when Corbett repeatedly stalked through it in his pursuit of the man-eater named for the village. In fact, two man-eaters, operating in separate locations, each ruled for eight years and over hundreds of square miles until Corbett brought a halt to their reigns of terror. From a number of these experiences he wrote his first book, "Man-eaters of Kumaon," which was submitted for publishing only after repeated urging by his friends. Though fully confident of his abilities, Corbett told his stories in an exceedingly modest manner, telling of his failures, his fear and attributing some of his success to luck. Yet, the facts of these terrifying circumstances revealed his amazing courage, physical endurance, dedication and his "Swiss Army Knife" array of skills which enabled him to take on these intelligent top predators in their own environment where they knew every path and location for an ambush in a 25 mile radius. Many locals believed the man-eaters were demons and could not be killed. Not an altogether surprising belief when no one has been able to stop a man-eater for years on end. But Corbett's feelings toward the man-eaters once again revealed his ability to understand nature, stating that man-eaters were not something evil, but merely animals trying to survive, straying from their normal diet due to some injury, old age or some unnatural event. When removing the hides of the man-eaters he had seen several instances of porcupine quills embedded in their paws or lower legs. Corbett's book, "Man-eaters of Kumaon" became a world-wide best-seller and was translated into more than 25 languages. His commission from the first printing in 1944 went to Indian soldiers blinded during the war. This book was followed by "Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters, "The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag" and three more books regarding his adventures and experiences in the jungles of India. Corbett's excellent writing brings the reader right into these terrifying ventures with him. These books would quickly establish him as the most well-known hunter of man-eating big cats. Over the many years since, that opinion hasn't changed, but now further concludes that he was without equal. "Billy" Arjan Singh (1917-2010), a world-renowned author of several books regarding his own efforts to save the big cats of India, sought out Corbett when Billy was just a boy and heard some his stories first-hand and said that "Man-Eaters of Kumaon" is the foremost book ever written about tigers. Billy also referred to Corbett the same way Corbett had described the tiger, "a big-hearted gentleman with boundless courage." Approaching his mid-sixties, and as a promise to his family, Corbett agreed that his pursuit of the Thak Man-eater, a very wily tigress, would be his last hunt for man-eaters and set a deadline. Though he was accustomed to placing his life in danger, he could not have foreseen just how close this "last hunt" would come to being his last moments on earth. He was also in great need of rest and sleep, his nerves frayed from days on end of unsuccessfully trying to outwit the tigress and being on constant guard for his life. His examination of her pug marks (footprints) were proof that the tigress had followed him on a number of occasions, looking for her chance to make him her next meal. We will never know exactly what the tigress was thinking, but she must have quickly understood that she'd never run into anyone like Corbett and that he represented some sort of danger to her that other humans had not. As the sun was setting on the final day of his hunt for the tigress, a very cold wind blew in. With only an hour of daylight remaining and an hour required to get back to the relative safety of a nearby village, he regrettably left his position and admitted defeat. By signal, he met up with his three porters and cook, all of whom were unarmed. At that moment the tigress started calling from the other side of the small valley. Corbett now found himself in a gut-wrenching dilemma. Head back to the safety of camp, knowing that this man-eater would surely prey on people for many years to come, or risk all of their lives by calling in a man-eater in the fading light? Corbett knew that even he would have little chance of hitting, let alone killing, a tiger in the dark. He made the incredibly dangerous decision to call the tigress in. Yes, he was an expert at that as well, using nothing but his own voice. To make matters even worse, there were no trees large enough to climb for their safety, so they concealed themselves as best they could in a rocky area. He said that no sound could fret one's nerves more than the calling of an unseen tiger at close range, but to have an unseen man-eater calling in fading light will turn a man's blood to water. With only moments of daylight remaining, the tigress roared still once again and was now so close that he could hear her drawing in her breath. But she was not yet in his view. In seconds it would be total darkness and if she spotted them, they would be at her mercy. Corbett called again. In the next moment the tigress appeared around the corner, looked right at him and froze. Two lightning-quick shots from Corbett's double barreled rifle, the second shot being unnecessary, and that was the end of the Thak Man-eater. When told there was nothing more to fear, his porters crawled up to the nearby rock and looked over it, but went no further because the body of the tigress was so close that her body was touching the other side of it. Just as he had determined from only the examination her tracks, this tigress turned out to be an animal in its prime and would have preyed on the human population for many years.
"Of all dangerous game, I believe the man-eating lion or leopard or the man-eating tiger of India to be the worst. Being nocturnal they kill their man of a night, when they have every advantage. They also have no fear of man and become very cunning in their attacks. My vote goes to the man-eater as the most dangerous game in the world." (From a 1960 article called "Africa's Big Five" by Elmer Keith in "Hunting Annual" which was reprinted in The Best of Sports Afield, 1996. Keith, a former cowboy and hunting guide, was also the designer of the .41 and .44 Magnum revolvers, and frequent writer for all the major outdoor magazines-often about hunting in Africa.)
Corbett spent part of his later years in the very challenging venture of capturing the images of tigers with his still camera and movie camera. During the time of India's striving for independence and the possible instability, he and his sister made the decision to leave their beloved India and went to live near friends in Kenya. Unlike most of his time, Corbett was an outspoken supporter of leopards, tigers, and all wildlife, starting the first conservation magazine in India. He also helped to establish the first national park in India, which was named Corbett National Park following his death. Also, the Indo-Chinese tiger was re-named Panthera tigris corbetti in his honor.


See more Corbett memorials in:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

  • Created by: Larry E. Barnes
  • Added: 13 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 49663837
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Col Edward James “Jim” Corbett (25 Jul 1875–19 Apr 1955), Find A Grave Memorial no. 49663837, citing Saint Peter's Cemetery, Nyeri, Nyeri, Kenya ; Maintained by Larry E. Barnes (contributor 5663157) .