Book Review: Man-Eaters of Kumaon
For all the people who love nature, forests and wildlife, Man-eaters of Kumaon is one of its kind, insightful book on tracking and shooting tigers. The book has 10 fascinating stories narrated by one of the greatest hunters, Jim Corbett, himself, on how he stalked, hunted and shot the deadliest tigers, in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, who had become man-eaters.
Corbett has written about seven of the deadliest man-eaters whom he killed. He has gone through great lengths to narrate the painful and tedious process of hunting them in the wild forest. Readers can actually visualise themselves hunting the man-eaters along with Corbett.
The stories are extremely gripping, narrating a detailed description and mentioning the minutest details of the jungle and the position of the tigers, enabling Corbett to shoot them. His stories have a lot of suspense and incidental information on the flora/ fauna and the village life.
The writer starts the book by a note, where he states, “Human beings are not the natural prey of tigers and it is only when tigers have been incapacitated through wounds or old age that, in order to live, they are compelled to take a diet of the human flesh.”
Corbett gives his readers an insight into how he gathered information about the whereabouts of the man-eating tigers. For example, the pugmarks, he mentions, reveal a lot about a tiger, its gender, age and the place at which it walked. It also signals the danger lurking around while hunting for the man-eaters. He has written about the Champavat, Powalgarh, The Mohan, The Kanda, The PipalPani and The Thak Man-eaters. A chapter is also dedicated to his faithful hunting dog, Robin, who accompanied him on his hunting expeditions from time to time.
The last chapter is titled Just Tigers and he ends the book by revealing his photography skills. Corbett tells his readers about the pains he took to shoot the tigers with his camera in their natural habitat, in the wild forest, which proved to be equally difficult.
There is also a dedicated section explaining the difference between why a tiger drags its kill versus lifting it.
After killing several man-eaters, Corbett finally decided to quit shooting tigers, as it was taking a major toll on his health and in the chapter titled, The Thak Man-eater, he describes the in-depth struggle he had to undergo to shoot his last tiger. The hunt took him almost a month but eventually, on the very last day on which he was to quit hunting, he was able to shoot the tiger at very close quarters, injuring himself as well.
After killing the man-eater, Corbett would skin the skin of the tiger and examine the tiger thoroughly to ascertain the root cause which made the tiger a man-eater.
A fascinating book for all wildlife lovers. A must read if one has a fascination for tigers.
Anisha Arora reviews this book for The Peeper Times