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Ironies of life and death


This is a picture of Champawat Tiger, who hold the record for the most human kills by a Tiger - 436 in total. The person standing over Champawat is the renowned hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett (hunter and naturalist sound like an oxymoron, but we will come back to Corbett later). Upon examination, it was found that Champawat's canine teeth on the right side of her mouth were broken. There was also some structural damage to her jaw. Corbett analysed that these injuries were likely the result of an old gunshot, that never healed properly. Since her bite was not as strong as a healthy tiger, Champawat was forced to pick on easier and smaller prey. And humans, who don't run very fast, who are not very strong or big, who are physically quite feeble, turn out to be the easier and smaller prey.


So Champawat, the man-eating tiger, who claimed 436 lives, only did so because man had shot her in the mouth. The story of Jim Corbett's presents a similar irony. As was Corbett a former British Colonel, was a naturalist, who studied and was familiar with animals. In fact, on the many occasions he was invited by local Indian officials to hunt down and kill man-eating predators like tigers and leopards, Corbett would often perform these hunts alone, accompanied only by his pet dog. However, it should be noted that Corbett also killed for fun. He hunted larger cats as trophies, even those with no prior account of causing harm to man. What's interesting is that it was with Corbett help that a national park was set up in 1936, India's oldest national park, and still one of its biggest. Animals in the national park today are protected, and in some area, tourism has become a big business. The park was renamed the Jim Corbett National Park in 1957. In the late 1960s, one of the 5 remaining sub-species of tigers was named after him - the Panthera tigris corbetti.


So things went a full circle. The hunter of tigers eventually created a space to protect them, including the species named after him.


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