I was lucky to visit two national parks within a period of one month. First was famous Jim Corbett Park and then not so famous Dudhwa National park. It surely was a bonus for the nature lover part of my life but at the expense of Pediatric Surgeon part in me which was financing all this, and missing the hospital practice. Sighting a tiger is always the most attractive part of any Jungle Safari in a Tiger Reserve and missing the amazing Tiger always results in a bit of disappointment; whatever anyone may claim otherwise.
Jim Corbett National Park – ‘Carpet Sahib’, The Hunter, Who Became Campaigner for Animal Rights
Jim Corbett was our destination returning from a family trip to Nainital. Drive through the outskirts of Jungle was beautiful and the first stop was Corbett House in Kaladhungi. Here he lived along with his sister Maggie. Edward James Corbett of Irish ancestry was born (July 25, 1875) and brought up in Nainital as his father was posted there as Postmaster. He was a hunter and a trekker who later mutated into a naturalist, photographer, and a conservationist. He hunted a large number of man-eater tigers and leopards. It is believed that these man-eating wild cats killed around 1200 men during his period in the area.
“Most oft saying – A picture speaks a thousand words” But, sighting a tiger is a Poetry in Motion which cannot be captured by lenses.
James Corbett first kill was Champawat tiger that had killed about 436 humans. He used to hunt with his dog Robin and one or two helpers, mostly on foot. Panar Leopard was his first Leopard kill in 1910 who was responsible for about 400 people. Leopard of Rudraprayag, Tallas-Des tiger, Mohan man-eater, Thak man-eater, Chowgarh tigress, Bachelor of Powalgarh (it is believed that this tiger never killed a human), Mukteshwar man-eater were the other famous man-eaters killed by Corbett. He played a key role in creating a reserve for Royal Bengal Tiger. Jim was instrumental in establishing Hailey National Park in the Kumaon foothills as the first Tiger Reserve. Later it was named as Ramganga National Park. In 1957 this reserve was named as Jim Corbett National Park honoring the conservator. He wrote “Man-Eaters of Kumaon”, “Jungle Lore” and many other books which were critically acclaimed and financially successful. Locals loved him a lot as he was their savior from killing tigers and also an educator teaching about the animal behavior and importance of wildlife conservation. People lovingly called him Carpett Sahib.
He adopted a village Chota Haldwani and helped them building a perimeter wall to keep wild animals out. It is now known as Corbett’s Village. He left India in 1947 to settle in Nyeri, Kenya and kept working for the wildlife conservation. Jim was with Princess Elizabeth as her bodyguard on a tree house built on a large Ficus Tree on 5-6 February 1952. Her father King George V died and princess became the Queen. Corbett wrote: A young Princess climbed into a tree and had a most thrilling experience seeing wildlife; she climbed down the next day as the Queen “God bless her”. Corbett died of a heart attack on 19th April 1955 and was buried in Kenya. Corbett House has a very nice souvenir shop and I found coat pins of Tiger and few birds.
We reached our hotel in the afternoon and had some good times spent with grandkids. There were many swings and car toys in a fairly open space and the kids had whale of a time enjoying them keeping us busy in pushing their swings and cars. They were so much enamored with all these toys and wanted to take that entire fleet home thinking that their loving grandfather owned everything there.
Jim Corbett Safari Experiences
Jim Corbett Safari started early next day morning. Sitting on a Jeep Safari in winters is a torture. Winter chill, freezing winds, and open Jeeps add everything to make it third-degree torture. The person sitting on the back is worst affected as that seat is higher and not as protected as seats in front which have a bit of protection due to the windscreen. We were very well packed yet the icy arctic winds were pouring in through every microscopic unprotected area. Kids were worst affected.
Jim Corbett Park is about 1350 square kilometer area with grasslands, rivers, and rivulets, water bodies, marshy lands, ridges, plagues, grasslands and hills elevating from 1300 to 4000 ft. It is divided into 5 zones namely Bijlani, Dhikala, Jhirna, Domunda, and Sonanandi. It is a dense moist deciduous area with forest covering 73% of the park.
Tolerating the biting chill we reached Bijlani zone in the morning Jim Corbett Safari. Expectations were high after seeing some pug marks but there were no distress calls of Langoors or Deers. We were welcomed by an assembly of Langurs enjoying on a treetop. Obviously, this was indicative of our luck with the Tigers. There was a Brown Rock-Chat Bird posing for my camera as if consoling me. Little sweet birdie was there for some time to comfort me. There were few Spotted Deer and Sambhar Deers enjoying the morning with absolutely no tension. We could spot few Woodpeckers: Black-Rumped Flameback Woodpecker and Gray capped Pygmy Woodpecker. Our not so interesting guide managed to show us a Crested Hawk-Eagle.
We came back again in the afternoon for trying luck in Jim Corbett Safari forTiger. We spotted a young male Tusker who was being teased by some idiots. Their vehicles were blocking his passage and he was losing his patience. Ultimately poor fellow had to show his anger to get his right of way. We could see a barking Deer and spotted a Black Winged Kite. That was it and a bit disappointed came back to our hotel. If morning was icy, our return journey to the hotel was freezing. Best time of the day was spending the evening with some quality entertainment by grandkids followed by some gossips and news with family.
Next morning our destination was Jhirna zone. It was far off from our hotel and the prolonged morning third-degree torture chilled us to the bone. Fortunately, children did not accompany us on this Jim Corbett Safari and they stayed back. We could see a pair of Golden Jackals, Wild boar, Jungle Fowl, an Emerald Dove and a Black and yellow Fly Catcher ( or maybe it was an Indian Golden Oriole).
Our sleepy guide did point us few Cinereous Vultures sitting at some distance on the rocky hills. Sighting a Great Indian Hornbill was the best thing that happened on this safari. We were consoled that seeing a Hornbill is equivalent to sighting a Tiger. We could also spot a King Cobra but before I could shoot him, he was half inside his pit. It was time to wind up this tour and the solace was the saying “You might have not seen the Tiger, he surely has seen you”.
We packed our bags and drove back home in Delhi. It was time for children to leave for their workplaces. Their presence was 10 days of a bonanza for us. There were sounds of laughter, crying, shouting, giggling and high quality of emotional blackmailing. The silence after they left was probably more chilling than the frosty Nainital or Jim Corbett mornings, but that is life.
I would appreciate my readers’ comments and criticism!
Copyright ©Harsh Wardhan All rights reserved worldwide. Images may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission from the copyright holder.