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Jim Corbett

Jim CorbettJim Corbett was born on 25th July 1875 to Mary Jane and William Christopher Corbett. Corbett grew up in Kaldhungi and Nainital in the then United Province along with his 9 siblings. Jim Corbett was a second generation Indian as his parents were born to parents of English-Irish percentage.

The childhood of Jim was largely spent in Nainital and Kaladhungi where he was taken care by his eldest sister Maggie. It was she who used to take Jim for stroll in to Jungle and that is where Jim Corbett had his first tryst with wildlife. He used to accompany a local poacher named Kunwar Singh for adventure hunting in to forest. Kunwar Singh would later become a life long friend and advisor of Corbett.

Jim Corbett Jim and other 'white' boys mixed freely with Indian kids in kaladhungi, picked up several of the local dialects, and became very fluent in them. This would prove very useful later when hunting man-eaters as it allowed him to commiserate with stricken villagers in a way that touched them deeply. Soon after schooling he joined the railways at age 18 as a temporary fuel inspector. He was given an assignment as a Trans-shipment Inspector at Mokameh-Ghat in Bihar. For next twenty years he remained in this position and managed a large workforce. It was during this time that Corbett became hugely popular as a hunter of Man-eaters. Whenever a tiger or a leopard became a man-eater and people begged him to help them, he would take a leave of a few days in which he would try to kill the man-eaters.

After years of following man-eaters to kill them, he obtained a great appreciation of how clever and cunning these animals can be. His experiences while tracking the Man-eating Leopard of Rudra Prayag, Kumaon and Champawat over a period of one year makes for fascinating and bone-chilling reading. Jim's greatest asset was his ability to doggedly pursue a man-eater and tries to outwit it - a veritable battle of nerves -, which he often won. Corbett continued to hunt man-eaters till in his late fifties, much against the protests of sister Maggie.

In later years, Corbett was a staunch proponent of Conservation, and predicted as early as 1950 that strong plans are required to save the tiger and other wonderful denizens of the Indian Jungle. The best way to enjoy and appreciate Corbett is to read his books written by him in years preceding his death. Corbett left India in 1947 after the British vacated India. He moved to Kenya. There he wrote up his man-eater stories. Corbett wrote a total of six books, three of them man-eater stories. It includes Man-Eaters of Kumaon (1944), The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudra Prayag (1948), The Temple Tiger, More Man-Eaters of Kumaon (1954), My India and Jungle Lore. Jungle Lore happens to be his autobiography. Corbett died in Kenya on April 19th 1955.
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