Corbett isn’t just about Nature. It is also a rich treasure of history and cultural heritage. The park has a long tradition of conservation. The fact that it is the oldest National Park of the Asia and India’s first Tiger Reserve itself symbolises that Corbett is a pioneer in efforts at preserving our natural heritage.
The great naturalist-writer Jim Corbett needs little introduction. His writings have fascinated generations of wildlife enthusiasts and he still commands no less appeal nowadays. The areas in and around the present day Corbett National Park were the stage for his exciting adventures in wilderness. Most of his man-eater hunting expeditions also took place in the same areas. Jim Corbett lived in Kaladhungi, where his house has been made into a Museum dedicated to his life and times.
Besides being located at a biogeographic confluence, Corbett National Park is situated at the junction of two distinct hill regions of Uttaranchal – Garhwal and Kumaon. Hence, the Park represents a synthesis of cultures of both these mountain areas.
Corbett's unique landscape has inspired many conservation initiativesThe area that now comprises Corbett National Park and its surroundings was known for its wildlife and scenic beauty more than a hundred years ago.
Efforts to save the forests of the region began in the 19th century itself under Major Ramsay, the British Officer who was in-charge of the area during those times. The first step in the protection of the area began in 1868 when their management was taken over by the Forest Department. In 1879 these forests were constituted into a Reserve Forest where restricted felling was permitted.
Later, in the early 1900s several Britishers, including E.R. Stevans and E.A. Smythies, mooted the idea of setting up of a National Park on this soil. It was only in the 1930s that the process for demarcation of such an area got underway, assisted by Jim Corbett, who knew the area well.
The U.P. National Park Act was finally passed in 1935 when Sir Malcolm Hailey was Governor of United Provinces and Asia’s first National Park came into existence. The Park was spread over an area of 122 square miles (about 312 sq.km) was first named as Hailey National Park. After independence, in 1952, the name was changed to Ramganga National Park. Then in 1957, the park was once again christened Corbett National Park as a tribute to the legendary Jim Corbett.
Corbett added yet another first to its credit when in 1973 when Corbett National Park served as the launchpad for India’s tiger protection programme Project Tiger and also became India’s first Tiger Reserve.
The Tiger Reserve was reorganised and presently includes two protected areas – Corbett National Park and Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary – and parts of reserve forests, covering a total area of 1318 sq. km.