Man-Eaters of Kumaon is a 1944 book written by hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. It details the experiences that Corbett had in the Kumaon region of India from the 1900s to the 1930s while hunting man-eating Bengal tigers and Indian leopards.
Man-Eaters of Kumaon is a book about wildlife and the human-animal conflict more than a century ago when the scales were less heavily tipped in favor of mankind.
If you are likely to feel horrified at the thought of the beautiful big cats shot by Corbett who later became one of the first animal conservationists in India then refrain from further reading.
But if you can keep a sense of time and place while reading about his exploits, Jim Corbett will leave you enthralled.
One tiger, for example, was responsible for over 400 human deaths. Man-Eaters of Kumaon is the best known of Corbett’s books and contains 10 stories of tracking and shooting man-eaters in the Indian Himalayas during the early years of the twentieth century. The text also contains incidental information on flora, fauna and village life.
Each account of Corbett’s is about his quest to stalk and then kill a man-eater – a rogue animal that had, for some very good reason (as the author is at pains to explain each time) started hunting and eating the hill folk in Garhwal and Kumaon.
A hundred years ago, the Himalayan foothills were an inaccessible place with few hospitals, thatched houses, and no electricity. When a man-eating tiger or leopard began terrorizing the countryside, there was little the inhabitants could do except sleep in fear, stop going out (at night if it was a leopard, during the day if it was a tiger) and pray that some sportsman would consider it worth his while to risk his life to rid them of the ‘shaitan’ tormenting them.
The feeling of being up close and personal with the most dangerous and beautiful beasts of the wild who are so fast disappearing from our jungles will amaze you once you read this amazing book.
The descriptions of the cats, each with a unique personality, habits, and reasons for turning to man-eating, are written fondly and with great attention to detail.
Only a human being who has lived in close proximity to, and regularly had to match wits against, a tiger or leopard can truly describe what the animal is really like.
Jim Corbett describes some of them as having a wicked sense of humor, others of being annoyed with him, another of being just plain lucky in his repeated escapes, but one and all of being magnificent, dignified and worthy adversaries.
It’s not just gripping hunting stories, but the entire experience of the rich flora and fauna that Corbett takes you through that leaves you with such an enriching read!
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