Edward James “Jim” Corbett was – throughout his long and productive life – a protector. In a life less ordinary, this exemplary man was a tracker-hunter of dangerous game, soldier and leader, conservationalist and naturalist, and benefactor of a number of villages and a large number of rural Indian people. Well-known for his series of books written about his life in India and encounters with dangerous man-killing tigers and leopards, Corbett was a man-of-action with the soul of a poet; a hard, tough man in the bush with a quiet, gentle way with those who knew him best.
Corbett was deeply committed to the land and the animals who inhabited it. He was a solo hunter (with the exception of his faithful dog Robin who accompanied him on several of his intrepid adventures) who was at home deep in the jungle where he took often significant personal risk to eliminate rogue animals who had taken – in some cases – hundreds of lives. Though refined and literate, he lived a Spartan life and – despite the extreme danger of one-on-one encounters with dangerous game – remained a man of incredible humanity and virtue beyond wealth and fame.
Despite his fame as a tracker-hunter, Corbett was most committed to the forests and conserving the vast natural resources that he felt provided both animal and man its true bounty. He traveled widely photographing animals in the wild and lecturing children and adults on the importance of nature and preservation. Throughout his life, he set an incredibly high standard of excellence in all of the things he did. Perhaps most importantly, he executed tasks from hunting dangerous game to rebuilding a children’s school with a modest and unassuming nature that belied the incredible drive and talent he possessed.
Several national forests and game preserves bear the name of this EXEMPLAR. Additionally, a species of tiger is named after him (Panthera tigris corbetti – Corbett’s Tiger), and his books and several biographies remain in print. The Corbett Foundation remains a vanguard organization in wildlife preservation. Jim Corbett – spanning 80 years of service to his God, family, country, and the land he inhabited – led a life of action, danger, physical exertion, and humanitarian donation. He was many things to many people – but to those who knew him best, he was the Protector of the natural world and the people and beasts that gave it depth and wonder. His like may not pass this way again….