Jim’s Corbett National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
Close on the foothills of Himalayas, in the Kumaon region, now a part of Uttaranchal, once there was a vast cover of forest that sheltered many leopards and tigers. These predators became man-eaters and raised terror in nearby villages. At night they often came out of the jungle in search of prey and attacked villagers. It was then a famous hunter name Jim Corbett, who was closely connected with the literature of the jungle, came to rescue the natives. With his rich experiences and sheer hunting skills he shot down many man-eaters only to become an ardent conservationist later in his life. It was his brilliant efforts to preserve the wild that gave birth to the Corbett National Park we know today.
Despite his many fatal encounters with the beast, it was Corbett who brought a new perspective to the Indian Tigers. He visualizes the tiger as the gentleman of the forest and predicted that when the tigers vanished, Indian forest would die. During his many hunting instances, he would go after the ‘tiger’, only in cases, when the animal is really the bone of contention (habitual man-killer). He never gave his consent to shoot a tiger that had struck under conditions of protecting cubs or disturbed at a kill.
Corbett was deeply concerned about the fate of the wild against the ever-increasing population of hunters during those days. He started a strong campaign to safeguard the nature and wild by speaking to groups of school children about natural heritage, create the Association for the Preservation of Game in the United Provinces and the All India Conference for the Preservation of Wildlife. Finally he established India’s first National Park-Corbett National Park in 1934 in the Kumaon Hills.
The park was the first of its kind to be designated as a Project Tiger Reserve in the country. Renowned for being the favorite habitat of the big cats, this dense natural setting is one of the few parks where the tiger can still be seen. Though the nocturnal predator is elusive by nature, its pugmarks are a frequent sight along the roadsides and forest trails during the day.
Characterized by a mixture of broad open grasslands and moist forest with Sal as the dominant tree, the park spreads over 520-sq. km. area drained by the Ram Ganga River and verdant hillocks in the middle. Beside the predator, elephants too invite a major attraction among the rich and varied species of mammals, birds and reptiles the park houses. Other than the tiger and elephant, the Himalayan bear, sloth bear, lesser known cats, and wild dogs are some of the common mammalian inhabitants found in the area. Sloth bear is found in the lower regions while the Himalayan bear can be detected high on the hills. Some of the smaller inhabitants found in the park are the Himalayan palm civet, Indian gray mongoose, common otter, black-necked hare and porcupine.
An entire spectrum of avian species, including water birds, pheasants, jungle fowl and Indian hornbill make the ambience of the park more colorful with every passing monsoon. Among the reptiles, the gharial and the long-nosed crocodile on the riverbank, and few species of turtles and tortoise form the highlights of the park. In Corbett you can also encounter an overwhelming number of insects.
Corbett National Park is best to visit between November to June. During the monsoon season the riverbed is flooded and the fragile road links of the park cut off, as such the authorities have to close the park for visitors from the mid of June to November 14. Phoolbagh, Pantnagar is the nearest AirPort, located at a distance of 50km. The nearest international airport is 300km away in the capital city of Delhi. Excellent accommodation facilities nearby make the park one of the favorite tourist hunts.