I have just re-read a childhood favorite – “The Man-Eaters of Kumaon” by Jim Corbett. When I first read it, I did not know much about conservation or wildlife preservation. As a hunter (shikari), Jim Corbett is a much respected figure in India, given his work in eliminating man-eating tigers in the Garhwal area of North India. There is now even a wildlife sanctuary named after him; the Jim Corbett National Park.
The book itself remains fascinating for me with its distinct Raj-era flavour and very detailed description of the flora and fauna of the region. The level of detail in which the author has described his surroundings, his hunts, and the people reflects his immense knowledge and his love of this region. Yes – some of the more staunch wildlife activists might find some of his “non-essential” hunting (i.e. hunting of non-man-eating wildlife) abhorrent and therefore not worthy of praise.
Nonetheless, Jim Corbett and his books remain a favourite of mine – to be read outdoors on the those warm summer evenings or by the fireplace in winter. His words continue to awaken the sense of adventure, the vivid visions of the creatures and the forests of Garhwal I haven’t seen yet, and the deep-rooted wanderlust. Not to mention that slightly philosophical view of the world that comes from living and observing the vagaries of nature from up close.