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Published on: 05/4/22 7:03 AM

Book review: The Temple Tiger and Other Man-eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett


Rupa Publications.

When I return to much-loved books, it`s usually PG Wodehouse or Georgette Heyer. However, this time it was to Jim Corbett`s The Temple Tiger and More Man-eaters of Kumaon (Rupa Publications).

The book is  a treat for all Corbett fans, and we are back in familiar territory peopled by stealthy cunning cats with a penchant for human flesh, some leopards and bears thrown into the mix, terrified poverty-ridden villagers, and the great white hunter who patiently tracks aforementioned marauders  down to rid people of their pain…one pain at least!

Corbett`s style is so effective in that he pens down his many acts of derring-do in the most – typically British–  understated way possible, thus heightening the drama inherent in the shoot, as well as the reader`s admiration for this hunter of maneaters.

How Corbett saw tigers

This time, though, what absolutely slayed  me was Corbett`s  references to the animal he was hunting, rendered all the more dangerous after it had developed a taste for human flesh.

At one point he says, during the next four days, we tried to get in touch with the tiger. Elsewhere,  he states that the Deputy Commissioners of Almora and Nainital were both suffering from maneaters, as was a village in Kumaon that  had suffered for many years from the man-eater. Then, there`s this line: I set out alone to try to get in touch with the wounded tigress.

Quite a departure from the usual hunter- hunts- hunted accounts we generally read.

On another related note, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has decided to drop the term ‘man-eater’, which is apparently a colonial category. Tigers attacking humans will instead be termed  ‘dangerous.’ Go figure.

As always, Col Corbett does some walking in the animals` paws, shows some real understanding of the people`s fears without too much patronisation, and offers up some darned good story-telling.

What more can a reader want? This is the eight impression of the book, so obviously the reader wants little else.

Jim CorbettKumaonman-eaters of KumaonRupa Booksthe great hunterThe Temple Tiger

Sheila Kumar • May 4, 2022

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