Edward James Corbett was born 25th July 1875 of English ancestry in Nainital districts of Uttarakhand. He grew up spending much of his childhood exploring the wilderness that exists around. Jim Corbett lived his life amidst dense jungle and developed a deep knowledge of the way. Sir Jim Corbett spent his major part of his life at Gurney House (located in Nainital) with his large family, his mother Mary Jane Corbett and his sister Margaret Winfred Corbett, fondly called Maggie. Over the years he became a good hunter as well as wonderful naturalist. He was blessed with the excellent observation, fleet- footed and great stamina. He was so intelligent and active that he could read the signs of the forest and movement of wildlife as put all senses on (sight, hearing and smelling) while moving in the forests. He has a record of killing 19 tigers and 14 leopards. He was also a pioneer conservationist and played a key role in the establishment of present Jim Corbett National Park. He led a confirmed bachelor life and remained an active member of many wildlife preservation organizations and helped in conserving these natural resources. The fable of Edward Jim Corbett is still persisting in the minds and hearts of the people of Garhwal and Kumaon. People all over the world know Jim Corbett from his fabulous writings as a famous hunter who later became the adversary of many notorious man-eaters.
He spent his summers at Gurnee 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 contractor.
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 Garhwal 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 Garhwal. 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 Garhwal Jim became inherent with the wildlife conservation and the Indian Government in 1956 renamed the park - Jim Corbett National Park in honour of Jim Corbett the powerful missionary for wildlife preservation in India. A fitting tribute to the White Saint.?