April 19, 1955 - Jim Corbett was the hunter who slayed some of the world's deadliest man-eating beasts, and today was the day he died.
During a 30-year career, Corbett hunted down tigers and leopards that had killed more than 1,200 men, women and children. Usually by the time Corbett arrived in an impacted village, the population had already been decimated and the survivors were hunkered down in a state of terror.
Corbett's style was to hunt on foot, with only his faithful dog Robin for company. The first man-eating tiger he tracked and killed was the Champawat Tiger in 1911. This tigress started its killing spree in Nepal where it claimed at least 200 lives. The Nepalese Army chased the beast into India where she ate another 236 people. A monument appears on the exact spot where Jim Corbett's bullet finally brought her down. An examination of the tiger's body revealed a festering gunshot wound in its mouth that had broken one of its canine teeth down to the bone. Painful injuries and diseases were a common trait of man-eaters. In many cases they had lost the ability to hunt their normal prey.
Over the years Corbett racked up an impressive list of kills, including the Panar Leopard (killed 400 people) and perhaps his most famous target, the man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, which had a waged a relentless 10-year assault on pilgrims to the Hindu shrines at Kedarnath and Badrinath.
By the 1920s, Corbett was ready to hang up his rifle and he shifted his efforts toward conserving and protecting the big cats of the world. His greatest legacy was the establishment of India's first national park. This preserve would be named after Corbett two years after he died. It's currently home to the only genetically viable tiger population in India. Sadly, the 80 or so tigers that remain here are probably not enough to stop the species from its steady slide into extinction.