Edward James Corbett was a third generation Irishman, who was born on 25th July 1875, the eighth child of his parents, and lived in India till 1947. He shared a precious bond with his elder sister Maggie. In 1947 he shifted to Kenya where he spent rest of his life trying to conserve wild life. He left all his belongings to poor local villagers of Kalladungi who still preserve wild life and nature following his foot-steps. Jim Corbett took to photography after he came in contact with his friend Frederik Walter Champion and picked up gun only to protect and rescue villagers who were terrorized by man eating tigers and leopards.
He was knowledgeable, brave and a crack shot. Tall and single, he dressed in bush clothing-shorts, knee-high socks and heavy shoes, with an assortment of hats. In his middle age he changed from being a hunter to a conservationist, though he continued to shoot man-eaters. He played a pivotal role in setting up of the first national park of the Asian-Sub Continent, now called the Corbett National Park.
He was decorated with the Kaiser-I-Hind, the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) and the C.I.E. (Companion of the Indian Empire). He also enjoyed the right “Freedom of the Forests’ to enter the forests. In 1937 he took to photography and captured wildlife extensively. He has authored 11 books which have never gone out of print since his first book in 1943. Three biographies have been written on him.
He was decorated with the Kaiser-I-hind, the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) and the C.I.E. (Companion of the Indian Empire). He also had the right to enter the forest called “Freedom of the Forests’. In 1937 he took to photography and filmed wildlife extensively. He was also an author and wrote 8 books which have never gone out of print since his first book in 1943. Three biographies have been written on him.
At a young age, he became a good wild life expert and a wonderful naturalist. He was blessed with natural fleet footed, excellent observation and great stamina. Very soon he acquainted himself with movement of wildlife and signs of forests. He used this knowledge sensibly while navigating in the forests. Due to his love for wild life in India, he spearheaded the establishment of first Indian National Park in 1936. Initially known as Hailey National Park it was renamed as Ramganga National Park and eventually Jim Corbett National Park in 1955-56. In 1968 one of the last five remaining sub species of tiger, Indochinese Tiger, was named after him to recognize his extensive efforts to conserve wild life, especially the tiger. Ever since it is known as Panthera Tigris Corbetti.
Note: Enjoy reading these books in our coffee shop library at Corbett Cricket Ground Cafe.
He breathed his last at his home in Kenya on 19th April, 1955 leaving behind a legacy for all the naturists and conservationists of the world to be proud of. Come and visit his karmbhoomi, Corbett National Park to be a part of this great heritage.