Man-Eaters of Kumaon

Man-Eaters of Kumaon is a 1944 book written by hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett.[1] 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[2] and Indian leopards.[3] 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. Seven of the stories were first published privately as Jungle Stories.

Maneaters of Kumaon
1954 Edition published by Oxford University Press and Illustrated by Raymond Sheppard

Book contents

  • Introduction by Sir Maurice Hallett
  • Preface by Lord Linlithgow
  • Authors Note: Causes of Man-eating in Tigers and Leopards
  • Champawat Man-eater: The story of the first man-eating tiger shot by Corbett in 1907. Reportedly the man-eater claimed 436 human victims in Nepal and India
  • Robin: Stories of Corbett's hunting companion Robin, his faithful spaniel.
  • The Chowgarh tigers: The first of three man-eaters Corbett was to shoot on government request at a 1929 district conference. It turned out to be a pair of two tigers, a mother and its grown cub, which had together killed 64 people between 1925-30. The cub was shot in April 1929 and the mother on 11 April 1930.
  • The Bachelor of Powalgarh: The exciting tale of how Corbett shot the much sought after trophy tiger (non man-eater) in 1930.
  • The Mohan Man-eater: The second of the three man-eaters Corbett was requested to shoot at the 1929 conference. Shot in May 1931.
  • Fish of my Dreams: Corbett reflects on the joys of fishing for Mahseer (Indian river trout) in submontane rivers.
  • The Kanda Man-eater: The third of the three man-eaters requested for dispatch at the 1929 conference. Shot in 1933.
  • The Pipal Pani Tiger: Corbett traces 15 years of history of a local tiger (non man-eater), from its tracks in the mud as a cub, up until its death 15 years later
  • The Thak Man-eater: The last Man-eater Corbett shot in November 1938 (aged 63)
  • Just Tigers: Corbett talks about the importance of conservation and his love of photographing tigers in the place of shooting them


After much prompting by friends and family in 1935 Corbett finally put to paper seven accounts of his jungle encounters. These were then made into a small book and 100 copies were privately published under the title Jungle Stories and distributed amongst friends. The stories were titled, "Wild Life in the Village: An Appeal," "The Pipal Pani Tiger," "The Fish of My Dreams," "A Lost Paradise," "The Terror that Walks by Night," "Purnagiri and Its Mysterious Lights," and "The Chowgarh Tigers."

In 1943, whilst Corbett was wheelchair bound recovering from typhus fever, his close friend (R.E. Hawkins) and manager of India's branch of Oxford Press convinced him to write a book for publishing. Using the 1935 Jungle Stories as a basis, Corbett wrote Man-Eaters of Kumaon (10 stories) which was first published by Oxford University Press in 1944.[4]

Notable Editions

  • 1944 - First publication in India by Oxford University Press - with 8 black and white photographs
  • 1946 - Published in UK and USA by Oxford University Press - with 5 black and white photographs
  • 1948 - Abridged Educational Edition published for schools under the title 'The Mohan Man-Eater and Other Stories' - illustrated by C.H.G. Moorhouse
  • 1952 - Published in UK by Oxford University Press - illustrated by Raymond Sheppard (no photographs)
  • 1953 - Published in USA by Pennant Paperbacks
  • 1955 - Published in Paperback by Penguin
  • 1962 - Published in Paperback by Bantam
  • 1990-1995 Limited 1,500 Red Leather Bound set of Corbett's Complete works published by John Culler & Sons


Sales & success

Abramishvili. Man-Eater of Kumaon. 2005
"Man-Eater of Kumaon", 2005 painting by Merab Abramishvili.

By May 1946 over half a million copies of Man-Eaters of Kumaon were in print. The book had been translated into four Western languages (including Spanish, Czech and Finnish) as well as six Indian languages. By 1980 the book went on to sell over four million copies worldwide.[5]

Chhindwara court case

In Chhindwara, India 1949 Jim Corbett's Man-Eaters of Kumaon was read out in court by defense for a murder charge. A villager by the name of Todal was found dead in the forest on 19 September 1949. The police's theory was that the accused conspired to murder the victim as he was in love with his wife, the defense was that the victim was killed by a man-eating tiger. Thus the defense produced Corbett's book and read passages relating relevant wounds and circumstances of an attack. The accused was later found not guilty.[6]

Film adaptations

In 1946 Universal Pictures brought the rights to the book and made the film Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948). The movie bore no relation to the book and centred on an American played by Wendell Corey who wounds a tiger and is later killed by it. Corbett saw the movie once and claimed that the best actor was the tiger.[7] In 1986, the BBC produced a docudrama titled Man-Eaters of India with Frederick Treves in the role of Jim Corbett. An IMAX movie, India: Kingdom of the Tiger, based on Corbett's books, was made in 2002. Corbett was played by Christopher Heyerdahl.

See also


  1. ^ Arvind Krishna Mehrotra (2006). An illustrated history of Indian literature in English. Permanent Black. pp. 351–. ISBN 978-81-7824-151-7.
  2. ^ Chundawat, R. S., Khan, J. A., Mallon, D. P. (2011). "Panthera tigris tigris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Stein, A.B.; Athreya, V.; Gerngross, P.; Balme, G.; Henschel, P.; Karanth, U.; Miquelle, D.; Rostro, S.; Kamler, J.F.; Laguardia, A. (2016). "Panthera pardus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  4. ^ Jim Corbett, My Kumaon: Uncollected Writings (India: Oxford University Press, 2012), vii, xv.
  5. ^ Martin Booth, Carpet Sahib; A Life of Jim Corbett (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991),230.
  6. ^ Jim Corbett, My Kumaon: Uncollected Writings (India: Oxford University Press, 2012),137-140.
  7. ^ Martin Booth, Carpet Sahib; A Life of Jim Corbett (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 230.

External links

.500 Black Powder Express

The .500 Black Powder Express was in fact a series of Black powder case of varying lengths that emerged in the 1860s.

2442 Corbett

2442 Corbett, provisional designation 1980 TO, is a vestoid asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 8.5 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 3 October 1980, by Czech astronomer Zdeňka Vávrová at Kleť Observatory, now in the Czech Republic. It is named after British-Indian hunter Jim Corbett.

Anang Desai

Anang Desai (born 4 May 1953) is an Indian film and television actor. Desai has appeared in more than 80 television shows and is popularly known for his portrayal of the character Babuji in the television series Khichdi and its eponymous film. He is an alumnus of the National School of Drama, New Delhi and was a part of the institute's professional repertory, performing Hindi theatre extensively before starting his career in the television and film domains.

Bachelor of Powalgarh

The Bachelor of Powalgarh, also known as the Tiger of Powalgarh, was an unusually large Bengal tiger, and is said to be 3.23 meters long when measured between pegs. From 1920 to 1930, this male tiger was the most sought-after big-game trophy in the United Provinces. When the tiger was shot in the winter of 1930 by Jim Corbett, he detailed the story in his book Man-Eaters of Kumaon, published by Oxford University press in 1944.

Champawat Tiger

The Champawat Tiger was a Bengal tigress responsible for an estimated 436 deaths in Nepal and the Kumaon area of India, during the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century. Her attacks have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest number of fatalities from a tiger. She was shot in 1907 by Jim Corbett.

Chuka man-eating tiger

The Chuka man-eating tiger was a male Bengal tiger responsible for the death of three boys from Thak village in the Ladhya Valley in 1937. It was shot by Jim Corbett in April 1937 who noted that the animal had a broken canine tooth and several gunshot wounds in various parts of his body.

Indian leopard

The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. The species Panthera pardus is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations.The Indian leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard.In 2014, a national census of leopards around tiger habitats was carried out in India except the northeast. 7,910 individuals were estimated in surveyed areas and a national total of 12,000-14,000 speculated.

Jim Corbett

Edward James Corbett (25 July 1875 – 19 April 1955) was a British hunter, tracker and conservationist, author and naturalist, who hunted a large number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India.

Corbett held the rank of colonel in the British Indian Army and was frequently called upon by the government of the United Provinces, now the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to kill man-eating tigers and leopards that were preying on people in the nearby villages of the Garhwal and Kumaon regions.

He authored Man-Eaters of Kumaon, Jungle Lore, and other books recounting his hunts and experiences, which enjoyed critical acclaim and commercial success. Later on in life, Corbett became an avid photographer and spoke out for the need to protect India's wildlife from extermination and played a key role in creating a national reserve for the endangered Bengal tiger, by using his influence to persuade the provincial government to establish what was called Hailey National Park. In 1957, the park was renamed Jim Corbett National Park in his honour.

Jim Corbett National Park

Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance.Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its landscape and wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park.

Corbett National Park comprises 520.8 km2 (201.1 sq mi) area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake. The elevation ranges from 1,300 to 4,000 ft (400 to 1,220 m). Winter nights are cold but the days are bright and sunny. It rains from July to September.

Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of sal, haldu, peepal, rohini and mango trees. Forest covers almost 73% of the park, 10% of the area consists of grasslands. It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species.

Leopard of Rudraprayag

The Leopard of Rudraprayag was a male man-eating leopard, reputed to have killed over 125 people. It was eventually killed by hunter and author Jim Corbett.

Literary references to Nainital

The town of Nainital (in British times Naini Tal or Nynee Tal), India was founded in 1841 by P. Barron, a sugar trader from Shahjahanpur. By 1846 the church St John's in the Wilderness was founded and a hill station had begun to flourish. Among the authors who referred to Nainital in their writings were Rudyard Kipling, Munshi Premchand, and Jim Corbett. This page consists of references to Nainital in literature (in the public domain).

Man-Eater of Kumaon

Man-Eater of Kumaon is a 1948 American adventure film directed by Byron Haskin and starring Sabu, Wendell Corey and Joy Page. The film was made after the success of the Jim Corbett book Man-Eaters of Kumaon, published in 1944. The film was not based on any of the stories of the Corbett's bestselling book, but used a fictional plot.


Nainital (pronunciation ), also known as Naini Tal, is a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and headquarters of Nainital district in the Kumaon foothills of the outer Himalayas. Situated at an altitude of 2,084 metres (6,837 ft) above sea level, Nainital is set in a valley containing a mango-shaped lake, approximately two miles in circumference, and surrounded by mountains, of which the highest are Naina (2,615 m (8,579 ft)) on the north, Deopatha (2,438 m (7,999 ft)) on the west, and Ayarpatha (2,278 m (7,474 ft)) on the south. From the tops of the higher peaks, "magnificent views can be obtained of the vast plain to the south, or of the mass of tangled ridges lying north, bound by the great snowy range which forms the central axis of the Himalayas."

Raymond Sheppard

Raymond Sheppard (1913–1958) was a British artist and illustrator of books for children and adults. He wrote books on drawing techniques, but is best known for his illustrations of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and the works of Jim Corbett.

Richard G. Hubler

Richard G. Hubler (born Richard Gibson Hubler; 20 August 1912 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania – 21 October 1981 in Ojai, California), was an American screenwriter, military author, and writer of biographies, fiction, and non-fiction. However, his best-known work is the 1965 autobiography he ghostwrote for Ronald Reagan, Where's the Rest of Me?.

Thak man-eater

The Thak man-eater was a female Bengal tiger who killed and ate four human victims (two women, two men) between September and November 1938. She was operating in Kumaon, at the Nepalese border, between the villages Thak, Chuka, Kot Kindri and Sem. The tigress was shot at about 6:00pm on 30 November 1938 by Jim Corbett. This was the last man-eater killed by Corbett. The story about Thak man-eater is known as one of the most dramatic stories about man-eating animals. It was the last story in the USA edition of the bestselling book Man-Eaters of Kumaon (published by Oxford University press in 1944). In the UK edition the last story of the book was "Just Tigers". The book Man-Eaters of Kumaon became the book of the year in USA in 1945, and a Hollywood film Man-Eater of Kumaon was made in 1948.

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