One of the oldest national parks of the country, the Jim Corbett national reserve has a lot to offer to the wildlife lovers and nature admirers. Located in the kumaoni region abutting the Himalayas, the pristine wilderness amidst the exotic is a popular destination amongst people from all over. But there is much more to the place other than the wild animals and green forests. Numerous books, articles, blogs throw light on the unknown facts about the park and its history, which captivate our imagination and increase the curiosity to know beyond the known. Delving deep into the history of the park gives a wide insight about the park which makes it more attractive than before.
We are well aware of the fact that the park got its name after the famous hunter and conservationist Edward James Corbett. A British hunter, who was born in India, contributed greatly in the establishment of this park.
Born to William Christopher and Mary Jane Corbett, he was eighth of the 16 children the couple had in the Nainital district of the kumaon hills. His father was appointed the postmaster of the town and they owned a cottage, in modern day kaladhungi. Since childhood, Edward James was fascinated by forests and wildlife. Through his various excursions, he leant how to distinguish the different animals and birds by their call. Over the years he became a good hunter and tracker. He has a record of killing 19 tigers and 14 leopards. These giant animals had killed many women and children since they had turned man eaters. Some of the tigers killed by Edward James are....
He always preferred to hunt alone and at times the only companion being a dog, robin.
The man eaters of kumoan, the book written by Edward James gives an insight into the reasons for him turning from a hunter into a conservationist. It makes us believe in miracles and that a strong will power and determination can change a human being. When he took a deep look at the carcasses of the tigers and leopards he had shot, he came to realize that they suffered from some diseseses which were caused either due to the gun shots or porcupine chills. It was theses diseases that were turning them to man eaters. This made him realize that these animals need to protected and not hunted since they becoming man eaters was not by their will.
When Edward James understood the fact that these wild cats need to be protected, he took all possible efforts to do the needful. Apart from lending a helping hand in the establishment of the park, he also created awareness among the people about the importance of wildlife for the preservation of the national heritage and for the maintenance of the ecological balance. He became so concerned about their habitat that he started taking up lectures at schools to educate the children about the importance to conserve the forest and wildlife. He played a very active role to promote the foundation of the association for the preservation of the game in the united provinces and in the All India conference for the preservation of wildlife. He had a major role in the setting up of the Jim Corbett national park. He wrote numerous books to describe the magnificent beauty of the forest and the ferocious animals which reside in the forest. Some famous books are Man eaters of kumaon published in 1944, jungle stories in 1935, jungle lore in 1953, my india-1952, the temple tiger and more man eaters of kumaon in 1954, tree tops-1955 and many more. Through these books he gave a beautiful picture of the kumaon region to the world which continues to lure the people to visit this place all the year round.
James Corbett and his memories are still alive in the form of his house which has been converted into a museum, though he died long back in the year 1955. For people, willing to learn more about the Corbett national park, the Corbett museum is the best place to quench their curiosity. Corbett sold this house to Mrs. Kalavati before he migrated to Kenya, where he continued to write about the mesmerizing Corbett along with making people aware about the declining numbers of the tigers in the region.
For some visiting the Corbett national park is just another weekend getaway holiday, but for wildlife admirers it a place to know more about the park and the person instrumental in the establishment of the park. The museum houses everything related to James Corbett, his entire journey from a hunter to a conservationist and nature lover, is a treat for the wildlife enthusiasts, not to be missed.
There are certain details which one needs to keep in mind while visiting the Corbett national park- the entry fee for the Indian nationals is Rs 10. It is different for the foreign nationals and is Rs50; students are charged less, Rs 3, if they carry their valid id cards. The park can be visited on all days of the week between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Though Edward James made a great contribution in the establishment of the Corbett national park, it was initially named after the governor off the place, Lord Malcolm Hailey, as the Hailey national park. It was only in 1954-1955 that the park was renamed the Jim Corbett national park, as a mark of respect and to pay tribute to the man who was instrumental who initiated a major conservative drive for this reserve. He selflessly devoted his life for the protection and conservation of this forest along with the animals who reside in it.