Jim Corbett National Park
Aptly called the ‘Land of Roar and Trumpet’, this forest of fl owing rivers, blue waters and saldappled glades, was christened after the famous Colonel ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett. There is something absolutely magical about being in tiger and elephant country, where unexpected sights and sounds present themselves at almost every turn. Many of Jim Corbett’s enthralling tales, including the Man-eaters of Kumaon and the Maneating Leopard of Rudraprayag originated here in these famous Kumaon hills, where the shikari used to hunt wild animals, until F.W. Champion, who pioneered wildlife photography in India, taught him to appreciate living tigers.
History And Culture
India’s first National Park, Corbett is ranked as one of the bestmanaged parks in the subcontinent. It also happens to be one of the last surviving stretches of untouched sub-Himalayan wildernesses. The park lies in the undulating Shiwalik ranges,distinct from the Himalaya in that they were formed from the products of massive erosion – sand, gravel and stones – of the Himalaya.
The topography is varied with hilly areas, riverine habitat, marshes, deep ravines and flat plateaux. The Ramganga river enters from the northeast and flows through most of the park till it forms the Kalagarh reservoir created by a multipurpose hydroelectric dam, the largest earthen dam in Asia. Corbett is the ultimate tiger haven, but because of its thick undergrowth and tall grass it is actually quite difficult to spot tigers. A plentiful prey base does, however, support a tiger population, variously estimated to range between 90 to 120.
Apart from the tiger, you could see as many as 50 different species of mammals. Leopards are often seen in the hilly areas and outskirts of the park, because the larger and more powerful tiger dominates the prime areas. The jungle cat and the rare fi shing cat frequent grassland and riverine areas.
Vegetation / Flora
Elephants are the dominant mammals of Corbett, but even these are dwarfed by the larger-than-life vistas.They can be seen bathing, drinking and feeding in the Ramganga River and its food-rich surrounds. Herds are seen as frequently as lone tuskers. You could chance upon them in thick vegetation or watch them from a distance from machans built over salt licks and water the park.
Relatively easily visible are chital, sambar (the largest deer in Asia) and barking deer. Wildboar may suddenly cross the jungle road as you travel. Huge males wander in sounders with females accompanied by striped and marked piglets. If startled by your presence, often takes a moment or two from their foraging to regroup and make their getaway into the undergrowth almost in single file. Large male boars can be dangerous if cornered and have been known to fatally wound tigers in battle. Bharal, goral, Himalayan tahr and serow can be seen. In the Bijrani area chances of seeing sloth bear are excellent.
Jackals come close to the Dhikala campus, where they seem to thrive on small rodents and mammals such as blacknaped hare that live in the grassy chaurs. The call of the langur is one of Corbett’s most distinctive sounds. Spread throughout the park, these monkeys can often be seen teamed up with barking deer and chital that have learned to feed on the fruit and leaves dropped by monkeys.