Most people know Jim Corbett from his writings as a famous hunter who became the nemesis of many notorious man-eateINR The lucid accounts of his exploits that he has given in his books generate as much excitement in people’s mind as they did when they were written. But besides being an articulate writer and accomplished hunter, Jim was a naturalist and conservationist, and a humble man.
A true son-of-the-soil, Jim was born in Nainital on 25th July, 1875. He grew up in Kaladhungi and Nainital, spending much of his childhood exploring the wilderness that lay around. It was here that he developed a deep knowledge of the way of the jungle.
At an early age Jim was faced with the responsibility of supporting his family of six members so he took up a job with the Railways. This was followed by a stint in the Army in World War-I. Afterwards, Jim, a confirmed bachelor, lived in Kaladhungi and Nainital with his sister, Maggie. This was the period when he was summoned many-a-time by villagers and the government to get rid of man-eating tigers or leopards.
But more than a hunter Jim was a wonderful naturalist. He had an excellent observation, was fleet-footed, and had great stamina. While moving in the forests he put all his senses – sight, hearing, smelling and unparalleled knowledge of the tract – to intelligent use. This way he could read the signs of the forests and predict movement of wildlife.
Jim was also a pioneer conservationist and was responsible for demarcating the area for the present-day Corbett National Park. He remained an active member of many wildlife preservation organisations and helped popularise natural history through his writing.Jim Corbett's house at Kaladhungi is now a museum
Not many people know that Jim was also an avid photographer and film-maker. He was one of the first persons to capture Indian wildlife on motion film and during his career obtained some rare and interesting footage.
Unlike most other Britishers living in India, Jim blended well with the local populace. He ate their food, spoke their language, lived with them, and was sensitive to their culture and religious beliefs.
However, soon after Independence he distributed his land and property to his associates and migrated to Kenya, where he spent the rest of his life.
Jim’s house at Kaladhungi, 28 km from Corbett National Park on the motorway to Nainital, is now a museum that attracts many of his admirers from far and wide. This museum is managed under the Uttaranchal Forest Department by Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Even in these times Jim Corbett continues to create a fascination for Nature and all things wild. Jim’s legacy lives on through his books, articles, films, and in the National Park named in his honour.