Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand - Nainital, Pauri Garwhal, Bijnore
Jim Corbett National Park lies in the Nainital, Pauri Garwhal and Bijnore Districts of Uttarakhand. The present area of the Reserve is 1318.54 sq. km. including 520 sq. km. of core area and 797.72 sq. km. of buffer area. The core area forms the Jim Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests (496.54 sq.km.) as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq.km.)
The core is bounded to the North by the Kanda Ridge, with a height of 1043 m at its highest point. The entire area of the reserve is mountainous and falls in the Shivalik and Outer Himalaya geological region. It forms the catchment area of the Ramganga, a tributary of the Ganga.
The Ramganga flows from East to West in the reserve through landscapes of incredible beauty. Dammed at Kalagarh at the south-western end of the reserve in 1974. The reservoir created, submerged 40-sq. km. of prime grassland. The area on the western side of the reservoir now constitutes the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
After India attained independence in 1947 the park was renamed as Ramganga National Park. In 1956, it was renamed as Jim Corbett National Park, in memory of Jim Corbett. Project Tiger, India's ambitious conservation program to save the tiger and its habitat was launched from Corbett in 1973.
Prior to the years 1815-20 of the British Rule, the forests of the Jim Corbett National Park were the private property of the local rulers. Though the ownership had passed into the British hands, the government paid little or no attention to the upkeep of the park. The sole aim was to exploit the natural resources and extract as much profit as possible from the jungle.
It was only in the year 1858 thatMajor Ramsay drew up the first comprehensive conservation plan to protect the forest. He ensured that his orders are followed strictly and, by 1896 the condition of the forest began to improve. Ramsays plan reflected the deep thought he had given to the science of forestry. In 1861-62 farming was banned in the lower Patlidun valley. Cattle sheds were pulled down, domestic animals were driven from the forest and a regular cadre of workers was created to fight forest fire and secure the forest from illegal felling of trees. Licenses were issued for timber and count of trees was undertaken. In 1868, the Forest department assumed responsibility for the forests and in 1879 they were declared reserved forest under the forest Act.
In a letter dated January 3,1907, Sir, Michael Keen for the first time referred to the possibility of turning these forests into a game sanctuary however the proposal was turned down. It was years later in 1934 the governor, Sir Malcolm Hailey, supported the proposal for the sanctuary and wanted the enactment of a law to give it protection. To overcome the delays that legislation would entail the area was made into a reserve forest by the Chief Conservator of forest. Later in consultation with Major Jim Corbett, the boundaries of the park were demarcated and in 1936 The United Province national Park Act was enforced and this reserved forest became the first national Park of India. And it was aptly named Hailey National Park after its founder Sir, Malcolm Hailey
Initially the park measured merely 323.75 square kilometers, but to accommodate wild animals like Tigers and Elephants, it was expanded to its present area of 520 square kilometers (core area) in 1966. The year 1973 was a landmark in the field of wildlife preservation. It was in this year that wildlife preservationist and naturalists from around the world launched PROJECT TIGER the most prestigious and biggest total environmental conservation project ever undertaken. The Jim Corbett National Park has the distinction of having been chosen the venue for the inauguration of this project.
Colonel Jim Corbett
Colonel Jim Corbett was born at Nainital in 1875, the eighth child of Christopher and Mary Jane Corbett. His father was the postmaster of Nainital. He did his matriculation at Nainital's Philanders Smith College where he was admired by his masters for his modesty and retiring nature. He did not pursue his academics any further.
He spent his summers at Gurni House in Nainital while in winters he went down to Kaladhungi in the tarai jungles. It was here he was taught how to fire a gun by his eldest brother, to. Their bungalow in Kaladhungi was inside a dense forest in which a large variety of plants and animals found refuge. The abundance of wildlife in Nainital those days can be gauged from the fact that Jim spotted tigers and leopards within a six and a half-kilometer radius of the temple of the goddess Naini. As a result of living in such exotic and beautiful surroundings he developed a spontaneous affinity with nature.
At the tender age of ten he found himself addicted to hunting, he had shot his first leopard and would just pick up and train his gun on any wild animal he encountered in the Jungle. When he was eighteen he joined the railways at Mokama Ghat in Bihar working as fuel inspector and assistant station master. He then became a labour contarctor.
When the World War I broke in 1914, he took a batch of five hundred Kumaon labourers to France. He was good at recruiting and organizing labour and was able to make them work for him willingly. He also helped the British government by training allied soldiers in jungle warfare, he then hold the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1920 after his health broke down he resigned from the job and returned to Nainital and for the next twenty-four years he served as an elected member of the Nainital municipal Board.
While serving in the railways at Mokama Ghat, he would spend his holidays at Kaladhungi. Shikar of course would claim most of his time, He had bagged two man eaters, a feat which made his name a house hold name in the far flung areas and long before he was known as a skilled jungle man leading Shikar parties for the dignitaries. It was during one such Shikar parties with three army officers the turning point came in the life of Jim – One a Shikar party somewhere in northern India they came upon a lake with thousands of water fowls. They were delighted to see the sight and shots rang echoing in the entire valley. In a matter of minutes their count stood at three hundred waterfowls. Jim could not stomach this sacrilege. From that day he developed an aversion to this type of Shikar. And while his friends were overjoyed Jim vowed never to kill a beast without a reason. After he had killed a man-eater known as the Kuara of Pawalgadh in the mid thirties he gave up Shikar as a sport. There after he shot only those tigers which had turned man-eaters or cattle lifters.
Jim considered it his duty to kill such dangerous animals, a duty he carried out faithfully till his last days. E killed his last man-eater when he was well past sixty In those days the terror of Man-eaters loomed heavy on the regions of Kumaon and Garwhal and Jim was the only man who had the guts to take on and kill such bloodthirsty beasts, endowed as he was with his superlative skills required for the job he killed man-eaters in their den, in open grassland, in dense forest and on rocky slopes. Some of his most famous encounters are published in his six books of which the man-eaters of Kumaon and The Man Eating Leopard of Rudra Prayag are well renowned.
After World War II he settled in Kenya with his sister Maggie. It was there that at the ripe age of eighty he passed away leaving behind a legacy which still reverberate in the valleys of Kumaon and Garwhal.
In all his years serving the cause of wildlife preservation and later deliverer of peace and tranquility in the man eater infested regions of Kumaon and Garwhal Jim became inherent with the wildlife conservation and the Indian Government in 1956 renamed the park – Corbett National Park in honour of Jim Corbett the powerful missionary for wildlife preservation in India. A fitting tribute to the White Saint.
Rivers of Corbett
For the survival of such a remarkable gamut of floral and faunal species in Jim Jim Corbett National Park , water is a crucial factor. The Ramganga river forms the most prominent hydrological resource, supplemented by tributaries, most prominent of which are the Sonanadi, Mandal and Palain rivers. The river Kosi runs proximate to the Park and is also a significant water resource for nearby areas. Wildlife is dependent on rivers, more so in the dry season, for they provide drinking waters
and also forms home to several key aquatic species.
Ramganga river is crucial for Corbett infact without it there would be no Corbett. It is the largest of the precious few perennial sources of water in the Park. A rain-fed river originating near Gairsain in the Lower Himalayas, the Ramganga traverses more than 100 km before entering Corbett near Marchula. Inside the Park it flows roughly 40 km till Kalagarh where it enters the plains. During this run through the Park it gathers waters from the Palain, Mandal and Sonanadi rivers.
The Ramganga is inhabited by key aquatic species like mahseer fish, the endangered gharials, mugger crocodiles, otters and turtles. Many species of birds, like kingfishers, fish-eagles, terns and storks depend on the Ramganga. During winters the Ramganga reservoir attracts many migratory bird species, especially waterbirds from Europe and Central Asia.
The Kosi is a perennial river like the Ramganga and its catchment lies partially in Corbett NP. From Mohan through Dhikuli till Ramnagar, the Kosi forms the eastern boundary of Jim Corbett National Park. Even though the Kosi does not enter the Park boundary, wild animals from Corbett use it for drinking especially during pinch periods. Its bed is strewn with boulders and its flow is erratic and often changes course. Kosi is notorious for its unpredictable and damaging torrents during monsoon. Like Ramganga, the Kosi too is inhabited by mahseer and attracts migratory birds.
The Sonanadi is an important tributary of the Ramganga. Named after this river the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary adjoins Jim Corbett National Park and forms an important part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Sonanadi enters the Park from the northwest direction and meets the Ramganga at the reservoir.
The name Sonanadi means river of gold. At one time grains of gold, found in the alluvial deposits washed down from the higher areas, were extracted from the bed sand by sieving, washing and mercury treatment.
Mandal and Palain
The Mandal rises in the eastern heights in Talla Salan in Chamoli district. Forming a part of the northeastern boundary, Mandal flows for 32 km and joins the Ramganga at Domunda a little distance above Gairal. During the dry season, the Mandal contains very little water but during the monsoons it turns into a furious torrent. It forms a vital breeding ground for the endangered mahseer. The Palain is the third important tributary of the Ramganga and enters the Park from a northern direction. It meets the Ramganga about 3 km north of the Ramganga reservoir.
Sot is the local name for a seasonal stream. While traveling across the park you may cross several of these bouldery dry streams. Though most of them appear dry and lifeless, they are very important for the Park ecology. Animals depend on these sots for their drinking water requirements for a good part of the year. There are some sots in Corbett that are perennial, important ones being Paterpani, Laldhang, Kothirao, Jhirna, Dhara and Garjia. Since water is a limiting factor, these perennial sots provide water to wildlife during pinch periods. Many of these sots are covered with thick growth of evergreen shrubs and bamboo clumps which form ideal shelter for many animals including the tiger.
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