What comes to your mind when you think of the name Jim Corbett? There are many speculations that people make like; it would have been associated with Tigers, Jungles or other wild animals. A destination place in the mountains named after a foreigner. However, many are still not aware about the real story, the history, and the connection of a foreign name with a jungle in India.
The history of the Jim Corbett National Park is as amazing as the history of the man after which it is named. Sir James Edward Corbett as his full-name was born on 25th July in 1875 of the English ancestry in Nainital, Uttarakhand, on hearing his life story the relevance of the park and the animal it strives to protect takes on a whole new meaning for us. He grew up spending much of his childhood in Uttarakhand and the nearby places exploring the wilderness around. Jim Corbett lived his life amidst the dense jungle and he developed a deep knowledge of the way, behavior and living. He spent his majorty of his life at Gurney House (in Nainital) with a large family, consisting of his mother Mary Jane Corbett and his sister Margaret Winfred Corbett, also called as Maggie. His father, who was a postmaster in Nainital died when Jim Corbett was just four years old. The whole responsibility of the large family came to Corbett’s mother as she had to raise and educate 12 children on a widow’s meager pension. Soon after an early age Jim has to face with the responsibility of supporting his family of six members and so he took up a job in the railways.
Jim was later became an officer in the British Army, he started out his passion for the jungle as a hunter and over the years became a great hunter as well as wonderful naturalist. He was blessed with the excellent observation, and great stamina. He was an intelligent & clever campaigner and had the godly abilities of reading the signs of the forest and movement of the wildlife animals during his hunting and exploring the jungles he put all his senses of seeing, hearing & smelling. He has a record of swaying away 19 tigers and 14 leopards. He was posted in India and Kenya, and hunted the very same animal that he later on dedicated his rest of the life to protect. It was in these two places (India & Kenya) that he made a great reputation for himself by killing numerous man eating tigers and leopards, because of his involvement with these animals he was called more frequently to hunt them and thus developed a great respect and admiration.
Later on, he decided to kill those animals that were a danger to the man and left hunting as a sport. As an avid photographer, he decided to catalogue and collect all information about these animals and the forests for the people, and later on became a conservationist. He began to actively advocate for the safekeeping of the wild animals. All his life he remained unmarried and became an active member of many wildlife preservation organizations and helped in conserving these natural resources.
The park was originally established by the Britishers in 1907, and was then named as the Hailey National Park which was a game reserve, where people could go & hunt the tiger! After the independence around the 1954, it was renamed as the Ramganga National Park and one year later in 1955-56 it was renamed to Corbett National Park as it still stands today. Today, the Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest natural sanctuary in India, along with a great tourist spot providing wildlife safari expedition this place has become a safe haven for the wild animals like the Asian Elephant, the Great One Horned Rhinoceros (which are in numbers now, but you still can find them) along with the mighty stripped beast, over the years the length and breadth of the Jim Corbett National Park has spread more widely to the nearby places acquiring the Sitabani National Reserve and many other places keeping the spirit of the wildlife animals and the wildlife enthusiasts still alive.
The Jim Corbett National Park which is located amidst the picturesque mountains, deep down valleys, fresh water rivers and the beautiful, eye soothing lush green forests, is an ideal tourist spot that will make people fall in love with nature.
Jim Edward Corbett’s tales still persists in the minds and hearts of the people from the Garhwal and Kumaon regions. People all over the world admire him and remember him from his fabulous writings as a famous hunter who later became the adversary of many notorious man-eaters. There are biographies & movies based on his life that displays the lucid accounts of his exploits that he has given in his books.