The Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district is one of the most scenic places on Earth.
Surrounded by lush Himalayan trees on all sides, thousands of birds and animals live in harmony with humans here.
But the story of Edward James Corbett, the hunter turned conservationist, is even more compelling.
Born in Nainital, Corbett dedicated his life to these forests where men, women and children would often be attacked by tigers and leopards.
At times, these big cats were only protecting their young ones and saw groups of humans as threats. And some other times, they were actually on the hunt and humans were easy prey.
Corbett helped villagers hunt down such ‘man-eaters’, one at a time. He often entered the forest with a guard or two, waited patiently at the spot where the cat was seen, and hunted it with efficiency.
One other serious problem the villagers faced was the tigers’ intrusion near their homes.
Although big cats and other animals are free to wander and don’t always attack humans, the villagers had experienced quite a few attacks.
To put an end to this problem while still maintaining a harmonious man-animal relationship, Corbett built a huge, long wall surrounding Chhoti Haldwani village.
This 5-foot high wall that stretched for 5 kilometres served as a buffer between the tiger and human territories.
Originally built in 1925, this wall is still working wonders today. It restricts the big cats’ attacks on the human population while ensuring both parties’ safety.
Corbett also educated the villagers about animal behaviour. His lessons helped people understand certain animal movements to predict potential animal attacks.
In his later years, Corbett turned into a conservationist advocating the foundation of the Association for the Preservation of Game in the United Provinces of British India.
He also promoted the foundation of an All-India Conference for the Preservation of Wildlife.
To date, the Jim Corbett National Park in North India remains one of the richest national parks in India.