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Two new books on Jim Corbett

July 25
03:42 2012

NEW DELHI: Known as the hunter of man-eating tigers and leopards, Jim Corbett has been chronicled in two new books, which takes readers through various adventures of the British conservationist some of them in his own words.

Unpublished essays, diary entries, articles for newspapers and gazettes written by Corbett’s contemporaries as well as letters between him and his editors at the Oxford University Press have been put together in a new book “My Kumaon: Uncollected Writing by Jim Corbett.”

“They showcase the man and the love for the people of Kumaon who accepted ‘a total stranger at his face value’, and where he spent his ‘happiest days'” say publishers at OUP, who have been associated with Corbett for all his books starting with “Man-Eaters of Kumaon” published first in 1944.

Priced at Rs 225, the book contains line drawings and rare archival photos of the hunter conservationist and includes a chronology of his life, a description by Corbett on how he came to write as well as an introduction “A life Well Lived” of the man by Lord Hailey, the former Governer of Punjab.

Meanwhile, Amar Chitra Katha is bringing out a graphic biography of the naturalist who became famous for having killed 19 tigers and 14 leopards in the Kumaon region and whose 137th birth anniversary is observed today.

“Jim Corbett – Friend of the Wild” takes the reader through the life of Corbett as a six-year-old when he got his first gun, his first killing of a leopard as a 11 year old till his death in 1955 in Kenya.

Priced at Rs 50 the book is set in the early 20th century “when the hills of Kumaon echoed with the bone-chilling roar of a man-eating tiger, it was the sure shot hunter, ‘Carpet Sahib’ who went to put an end to the terror.” Publisher Amar Chitra Katha notes, “But what was often missed was the intense sorrow he felt when one of these magnificent creatures had to be shot down.”

“Jim Corbett understood the tiger and respected it. He recognized its irreplaceable place in the circle of life and described it as the ‘large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage'” says the book.

Born in Nainital, Corbett began hunting with his pet dog at the age of 8 with his first targets being birds. He got a government job and worked for almost 20 years. In 1907 Corbett offered to go after the Champawat Tiger which is known to have killed 438 humans but on the condition that the government reward on killing it is cancelled.

Corbett killed the “man-eaters,” some of who were given names such as the Champawat Tiger, the Leopard of Rudraprayag, the Tigers of Chowgarh and the Panar leopard – all of which have become stuff of legend.

In the story “One of Us” in the book “My Kumaon” he writes about being mistaken for a “Rajput” by a sadhu. He spent his earlier part of life hunting down man-eating tigers and leopards that terrorized the villagers, but later helped conserve the wild cats against poaching.

Corbett played a key role in establishing India’s first national Park in Kumaon hills in 1935 which was later renamed after himself.

In 1947 the Corbetts – Jim and his sister Maggie, both of whom remained unmarried – left for Kenya. He divided his land into lots and gifted them to villages. He died in 1955.

Corbett writes that he was encouraged to write by friend and OUP editor Roy E Hawkins and since “he never made a note in his life” he culled out memories that were like photographs in his mind “and copied them onto paper”, typing them out on a typewriter using one finger. -PTI

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