CORBETT / NATURAL WORLD

Jim Corbett, The Legend
Jim Corbett made his mark in his early life as a soldier and a hunter but subsequently, dedicated himself to the preservation of life - human and wild.Whenever a maneater threatened a village, 'Carpet Sahib' was summoned. Moving on foot for days and weeks, often on steep winding trails, Corbett became the saviour of the simple hill folk of Kumaon and Garhwal.Jim Corbett could read the jungle signs like an open book. He could decipher a ripple in the dust of a dry stream bed. A blade of grass caught in the act of springing back from a crushed position. When stalking, he could use the wind like predators do, to either conceal or reveal his presence. He could freeze stock-still in mid stride for any amount of time, just like an animal. He could easily read the sounds of the animals and could imitate them to perfection. Even the call of a tiger! With no assistance apart from his vocal chords, he could lure the animal to a face to face meeting. Two maneaters shot by him were cornered using this awesome ability. Jim Corbett, the eighth child of a postmaster, gave up on academics early, proved his prowess at the gun at the age of 8. He worked as storekeeper, labour contractor, Captain in World War I, member of municipal board, and trained soldiers in jungle warfare for World War II, was awarded the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He shot with his camera and chronicled his experiences in 8 gripping books.

Nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Corbett National Park extends over an area of 520.82sq.km. Varied topography and vegetation gives Corbett a rich diversity in habitats and natural beauty. Flat valleys are interspersed with hilly ridges and the Park's rolling grasslands known as the Chaurs provide visitors with an excellent view of its inhabitants.
The magnificent Ramganga River flows through the entire length of the Park and little forest streams tumble through the ravine. Corbett has the highest density of tiger in the country - approximately one every 5 sq. km. and it was here that the prestigious "Project Tiger" was launched in 1973. Four species of deer - hog deer,sambar, chital and barking deer and other prey like the wild boar, support the predator. Besides the tiger, Corbett is a haven for 50 mammals, 580 kinds of birds and 25 reptile species. Excellent facilities for staying and viewing wildlife make Corbett one of the finest reserves in India.

The Corbett Park - A conservationist's heritage 
The Corbett Park A conservationist's heritage It is as though time has stood still in the last hundred years. The tiger yawns and stretches near the river after a hearty meal. Herds of beautiful spotted deer graze close by, knowing they are safe for several hours. The otters tease the tiger from a far. The crocodile ignores the otters, since he fancies only fish. The swift, mighty mahaseer however, at 50lbs, is more than a match for the crocodile. In the tall grass, one of the last few hog deers on earth eats the tender shoots of grass, disturbing the golden oriole who has just laid 3 perfect eggs in her nest by the river bank. 

Corbett is a serious park, where the rules of conservation are to be strictly followed by visitor, park employee and the Kumaoni villagers who live just outside the park. And this is made easy because it is a park beloved of all who visit. 

The Park is named after Jim Corbett, who lived in the region, knew the language of the jungle, and who metamorphosised from hunter to ardent conservationist. The topography of the park is varied and interesting with ravines, plateaus, marshy depressions and grasslands. The sparkling River Ramganga is the life source of the park. The vegetation is dense mixed deciduous with a wide variety of trees including the stately sal, and creepers, shrubs, bamboos and grasses. 

Corbett is a wonderful lesson in biodiversity. You see the world as it ought to have be.

The park teems with life.
• 110 Species of trees 
• 51 Shrubs 
• 27 Climbers 
• 37 Grasses and bamboos 
• 50 Endemic species of mammals 
• 600 Species of birds 
• 26 Reptiles 
• 07 Amphibians 

The Corbett National Park is an excellent and largely inviolate specimen of the rich sal and mixed woodland that spans the outer Himalayas. Because of its rich biogeographic diversity, the Park is a natural haven for the flora and fauna of the plains, the submountainous regions and high altitude areas.

At the lower level are winding strips of alluvial grasslands or chaurs (beloved to many species of deer) crossed by numerous water courses. The lifeline of the Park is the sparkling Ramganga river which provides safe harbour to mahaseer fish, crocodile and otter. Stately stands of sal and diverse mixed forest cover hills and valleys, fodder and foliage for large herds of elephants. Sharp spurs in the terrain make it an idyllic habitat for shy species like the tiger.

The incredible variety of mammals, birds and vegetation at Corbett reveals one of the healthiest 'food chains' this side of the world. Almost all the major groups of animals known to exist in the Himalayan Terai and the Bhabar foothills region are found here. The abundance of the prey species determines the presence and survival of the predators. As the abundance of diverse vegetation supports myriad species, from avian to mammal. 

Corbett is a delightful education. Of nature in a superabundant, undisturbed state. An image of a vanishing world. 

A home for vanishing species 

The protective environment of Corbett Park has kept some endangered species safe and thriving, like the hog deer which has been virtually saved from extinction. At last count, the numbers had increased substantially. 

Corbett is also the only home of the rare Indian pagolin. Consider yourself supremely blessed if you spot one! 

The rare fish eating, long snouted gharial is a common sight on the banks of the river Ramganga. Several species on the world hit list have been seen to be breeding happily in the park, at ease in Corbett's rich, life supporting biodiversity.

Birds
Corbett Park is a birdwatcher's dream come true. The park, with its rich biogeographic diversity, is home to more than 600 species of birds - about half of the total species found in the entire Indian subcontinent! You can see parakeets, owls, orioles, drongos, thrushes, babblers, bulbuls, cuckoos, doves, bee eaters, rollers, flycatchers, warblers, robins, chats, finches, forktails, hornbills, kingfishers and many many more. It is also possibly one of the best places in the world for observing birds of prey. About 50 species out of the total 70 odd species found in South East Asia live in the park. The numerous water bodies provide an ideal habitat for ducks and waders. 

Many of these birds are migratory: the park forms a natural crossroad and meeting ground for avian species from high altitude areas, plains and eastern and western regions. Because of this unique location, the bird population is pretty high throughout the year, with winter visitors, summer visitors, altitudinal migrants, passage migrants and local migrants.

Even the fringes of the park are eminently rewarding. All you need is a pair of binoculars for hours - and even days - of fascinated birdwatching.

The Wild Asiatic Elephant 
What warns you is the sharp tang of freshly crushed vegetation and the sound of leaves being torn. But the herd smells you before you can see it. A baby elephant begins to squeal in fright. Adults immediately cordon the baby. They continue this protection till you are safely past. Way up the jungle path, a lonely tusker in 'mast' condition looms large. Sweat breaks out. Will he charge?

Seeing elephants in the wild is a raw, exhilarating experience. The Corbett Park is the best place in Northern India to observe them at fairly close quarters. About 300 - 350 Asiatic elephants roam around the park in herds, along the river Ramganga or foraging in the grasslands. 

The forests provide the elephants enough food. The elephant's daily diet is perked up with wild berries and fruits which are available aplenty. A great delicacy is the plant rohini (mallotus phlippensis) which is favoured by elephants when they are in the 'mast' condition. It cools them down!

Mahseer fish and fishing
One of the fascinating narration's of Jim Corbett in his book "Man Eaters of Kumaon" is about his fishing holidays for Mahseer (barbus tour), in a river which flowed through a beautiful wooded valley. When Corbett was fishing, the air was filled with the fragrance of flora and songs of a multitude of birds. Corbett opined that angling in such an atmosphere is a sport fit for kings. After catching a 50 lb. mahseer, he concluded that the sublime surroundings in which he had caught the fish will not be forgotten, and will draw him back to this valley, which to date still unspoiled by the hand of man. His descriptions fit well with the Ramganga valley.

The Mahseer is a fresh water scaly fish, which can attain a huge size, and shows more sport for its size than a Salmon and therefore is considered the best sport fish in the world Mahseer quite avidly takes to bait such as spoon, plug, fly and livefish, are omnivorous in feeding habits - eating snails, crabs and weeds like algae, etc. Etymology of Mahseer suggests the word could mean a fish with "lion's gameness" and "fish par excellence". Experts have identified about six species in India, but no detailed information on the present status and distribution of these species is available. Though fisherman consider consider the Golden or Himalayan Mahseer (tor putitora) as the main species available on the Ramganga / Kosi rivers, besides the Silver and Black Mahseer. Goonch (bagaraus bagarius), a fresh water scavenger is also another species that thrives in these rivers.