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History of Jim Corbett National Park

Prior to the years 1815-20 of the British Rule, the forests of the Jim Corbett National Park were the private property of the local rulers. Though the ownership had passed into the British hands, the government paid little or no attention to the upkeep of the park. The sole aim was to exploit the natural resources and extract as much profit as possible from the jungle.

It was only in the year 1858 that Major Ramsay drew up the first comprehensive conservation plan to protect the forest. He ensured that his orders are followed strictly and, by 1896 the condition of the forest began to improve. Ramsays plan reflected the deep thought he had given to the science of forestry. In 1861-62 farming was banned in the lower Patlidun valley. Cattle sheds were pulled down, domestic animals were driven from the forest and a regular cadre of workers was created to fight forest fire and secure the forest from illegal felling of trees. Licenses were issued for timber and count of trees was undertaken. In 1868, the Forest department assumed responsibility for the forests and in 1879 they were declared reserved forest under the forest Act.

In a letter dated January 3,1907, Sir, Michael Keen for the first time referred to the possibility of turning these forests into a game sanctuary however the proposal was turned down. It was years later in 1934 the governor, Sir Malcolm Hailey, supported the proposal for the sanctuary and wanted the enactment of a law to give it protection. To overcome the delays that legislation would entail the area was made into a reserve forest by the Chief Conservator of forest. Later in consultation with Major Jim Corbett, the boundaries of the park were demarcated and in 1936 The United Province national Park Act was enforced and this reserved forest became the first national Park of India. And it was aptly named Hailey National Park after its founder Sir, Malcolm Hailey

Initially the park measured merely 323.75 square kilometers, but to accommodate wild animals like Tigers and Elephants, it was expanded to its present area of 520 square kilometers (core area) in 1966. The year 1973 was a landmark in the field of wildlife preservation. It was in this year that wildlife preservationist and naturalists from around the world launched PROJECT TIGER the most prestigious and biggest total environmental conservation project ever undertaken. The Jim Corbett National Park has the distinction of having been chosen the venue for the inauguration of this project.

About Sir Jim Corbett

Sir Jim Corbett was born at Nainital in 1875, the eighth child of Christopher and Mary Jane Corbett. His father was the postmaster of Nainital. He did his matriculation at Nainital's Philanders Smith College where he was admired by his masters for his modesty and retiring nature. He did not pursue his academics any further.

He spent his summers at Gurni House in Nainital while in winters he went down to Kaladhungi in the tarai jungles. It was here he was taught how to fire a gun by his eldest brother, to. Their bungalow in Kaladhungi was inside a dense forest in which a large variety of plants and animals found refuge. The abundance of wildlife in Nainital those days can be gauged from the fact that Jim spotted tigers and leopards within a six and a half-kilometer radius of the temple of the goddess Naini. As a result of living in such exotic and beautiful surroundings he developed a spontaneous affinity with nature.

At the tender age of ten he found himself addicted to hunting, he had shot his first leopard and would just pick up and train his gun on any wild animal he encountered in the Jungle. When he was eighteen he joined the railways at Mokama Ghat in Bihar working as fuel inspector and assistant station master. He then became a labour contarctor.

When the World War I broke in 1914, he took a batch of five hundred Kumaon labourers to France.He was good at recruiting and organizing labour and was able to make them work for him willingly. He also helped the British government by training allied soldiers in jungle warfare, he then hold the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1920 after his health broke down he resigned from the job and returned to Nainital and for the next twenty-four years he served as an elected member of the Nainital municipal Board.

While serving in the railways at Mokama Ghat, he would spend his holidays at Kaladhungi. Shikar of course would claim most of his time, He had bagged two man eaters, a feat which made his name a house hold name in the far flung areas and long before he was known as a skilled jungle man leading Shikar parties for the dignitaries. It was during one such Shikar parties with three army officers the turning point came in the life of Jim – One a Shikar party somewhere in northern India they came upon a lake with thousands of water fowls. They were delighted to see the sight and shots rang echoing in the entire valley. In a matter of minutes their count stood at three hundred waterfowls. Jim could not stomach this sacrilege. From that day he developed an aversion to this type of Shikar. And while his friends were overjoyed Jim vowed never to kill a beast without a reason. After he had killed a man-eater known as the Kuara of Pawalgadh in the mid thirties he gave up Shikar as a sport. There after he shot only those tigers which had turned man-eaters or cattle lifters.

Jim considered it his duty to kill such dangerous animals, a duty he carried out faithfully till his last days. E killed his last man-eater when he was well past sixty

In those days the terror of Man-eaters loomed heavy on the regions of Kumaon and Garwhal and Jim was the only man who had the guts to take on and kill such bloodthirsty beasts, endowed as he was with his superlative skills required for the job he killed man-eaters in their den, in open grassland, in dense forest and on rocky slopes. Some of his most famous encounters are published in his six books of which the man-eaters of Kumaon and The Man Eating Leopard of Rudra Prayag are well renowned.

After World War II he settled in Kenya with his sister Maggie. It was there that at the ripe age of eighty he passed away leaving behind a legacy which still reverberate in the valleys of Kumaon and Garwhal.

In all his years serving the cause of wildlife preservation and later deliverer of peace and tranquility in the man eater infested regions of Kumaon and Garwhal Jim became inherent with the wildlife conservation and the Indian Government in 1956 renamed the park – Corbett National Park in honour of Jim Corbett the powerful missionary for wildlife preservation in India. A fitting tribute to the White Saint.


Main flora in the Jim Corbett National Park:

Sal, khair, ber, kuthber, bel, chbilla, dhak, semal, khingan, kharpat, rohini, bakli, pula, bamboo.


Mammals at Jim Corbett National Park:

Tiger, leopard, elephant, spotted deer, sambar, nilgai, hog deer, barking deer, sloth bear, wild boar, ghural, langur and rhesus monkey.


Birds at Jim Corbett National Park:

Peacock, pheasant, pigeon, owl, hornbill, barbet, lark, myna, magpie, minivet, patridge, thrush, tit, nuthatch, wagtail, sunbird, bunting, oriole, kingfisher, drongo, dove, woodpecker, duck, teal, eagle, stork, cormorant, falcon, bulbul, flycatcher, red start and gull.


Reptiles at Jim Corbett National Park:

Indian marsh crocodile or mugger, gharial, king cobra, common krait, cobra, Russels viper, python and monitor lizard.


History of Jim Corbett National Park:

Till 1820 Private property of local rulers.
1820- Ownership passed into British hands.
1820- 1850 Forests mercilessly felled for timber by British rulers.
1858- Plan drawn up for protecting the forests.
1879- Declared as reserved forests.
1884- Jim Corbett shoots his first leopard.
1900- 1910 Jim Corbett leads shikar parties and kills two man-eaters.
1910- Jim Corbett gives up killing as mere sport and becomes the savior of the villagers, defending them from man-eaters.
1934- The Park is declared a National Park and Corbett helps define the boundaries.
1935- 1936 It was set up as the first National Park under United Provinces National Parks Act. It was named the Hailey National Park, after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the Governor of United Provinces.
1954- With independence it was renamed as the Ramganga National Park.
1955- Jim Corbett died at Nyeri.
1957- The park is renamed in honor of his memory.
1973- The Park becomes the first Tiger Reserve of India under Project Tiger.
1974- Inauguration of Tiger Project.
1986- Corbett National park celebrates its Golden Jubilee.
1996- Diamond Jubilee of its existence as Corbett national park.
1998- year of Project Tiger.
9 Nov. 2000- Became part of Uttarakhand and now Uttarakhand state.

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