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The Champawat Tiger and Other Man Eaters Of Kumaon
February 25, 2010 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Jim Corbett's Man Eaters Of Kumaon (1944) is a collection of true stories about the hunt for man-eating tigers and leopards in India. One of Corbett's most notable kills, the Champawat Tiger, was alleged to have killed some 436 people in Nepal and India. Similarly, the Leopard of Panar possibly killed some 400 people in northern India before she was hunted down herself.

A contemporary review of the book, in quite contemporary fashion, noted of Corbett: "Admiring the courage and spirit of tigers, he deplores their bad habits, but insists they kill only to eat, are rarely 'bloodthirsty' or 'cruel.'"

(Old AskMetafilter comments about the book: 1, 2)
posted by SpringAquifer (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Indian toddler marries dog to stop tiger attack.
posted by three blind mice at 2:08 PM on February 25, 2010


Ugly stuff, but interesting. Thanks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:20 PM on February 25, 2010


For a guy shooting tigers, he's pretty sympathetic toward them:
I have extracted, possibly, a couple of hundred porcupine quills from the man-eating tigers I have shot. Many of these quills have been over nine inches in length and as thick as pencils. The majority were embedded in hard muscles, a few were wedged firmly between bones, and all were broken off short under the skin (138).
Of course the tigers were dead before he removed the quills, but he does make it clear throughout that he feels big cats turn to human prey only when they are unable to hunt game. (I read this book decades ago when I was a tiger-obsessed kid, I think my dad still has it in his bookcase. I never forgot the description of those quills and would poke myself in the leg with Dixon Ticonderoga #2s trying to imagine what it would feel like.)
posted by jamaro at 2:25 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are some great books available on archive.org and this is one of them. I'm seriously contemplating a Kindle just so I can make best advantage of the wonderful titles to be had. Thanks SpringAquifer.
It is a popular fallacy that all man-eaters are old and mangy, the mange being attributed to the excess of salt in human flesh. I am not competent to give any opinion on the relative quantity of salt in human or animal flesh; but I can and I do, assert that a diet of human flesh, so far from having an injurious effect on the coat of man-eaters, has quite the opposite effect, for all the man-eaters I have seen have had remarkably fine coats.
Deliciously frightening.
posted by tellurian at 2:42 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like I heard a story recently (past few months) on NPR that subsequent, recent analysis of the tiger corpses revealed they hadn't eaten anywhere close to the number of people as believed at the time. But I might be thinking about a different set of man eating cats.
posted by Caduceus at 2:50 PM on February 25, 2010


I'm not sure why relatively weak, slow, puny, clawless, venomless, tasty creatures sharing a habitat with large, powerful, deadly, carnivorous predators would find it unusual to be regarded as prey.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:55 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Livingstone: There's a lot of it about, probably a virus, keep
warm, plenty of rest, and if you're playing football or
anything try and favour the other leg.

Perkins: Oh right ho.

Livingstone: Be as right as rain in a couple of days.

Perkins: Thanks for the reassurance, doc.

Livingstone: Not at all, that's what I'm here for. Any other
problems I can reassure you about?

Perkins: No I'm fine.

Livingstone: Jolly good. Well, must be off.

Perkins: So it'll just grow back then, will it?

Livingstone: Er... I think I'd better come clean with you about
this... it's... um it's not a virus, I'm afraid. You see, a
virus is what we doctors call very very small. So small it
could not possibly have made off with a whole leg. What we're
looking for here is I think, and this is no more than an
educated guess, I'd like to make that clear, is some
multi-cellular life form with stripes, huge razor-sharp teeth,
about eleven foot long and of the genu *felis horribilis*.
What we doctors, in fact, call a tiger.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 3:28 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are some great books available on archive.org and this is one of them. I'm seriously contemplating a Kindle just so I can make best advantage of the wonderful titles to be had.

The PDF's on Internet Archive won't work on a Kindle because they are multi-layer and the Kindle doesn't support it. I was really bumbed. But, you can convert DjVu files to PDF using free utilities. This took me a while to figure out but it works well once you get the right software, it's called "WinDjView".

I read Man Eaters of Kumaon on my Kindle DX a few months ago using the very book linked in the FPP. I read a lot of IA books on my Kindle - far superiour to the books you get on Amazon because they are actual books, you know with real fonts and pages and graphics etc.. I don't bother reading commercial Kindle books, they look like crap, I'd rather buy the book. But for reading scanned books, it's the way to go. But you really need the DX, the other one is too small for PDF books scans.

Anyway, Man Eaters is a classic and awesome. Read the intro and first short chapter if your not sure, if your not hooked by then forget it.
posted by stbalbach at 4:16 PM on February 25, 2010


The PDF's on Internet Archive won't work on a Kindle
Is the Kindle (Beta) format that archive.org offers no good?
posted by tellurian at 4:37 PM on February 25, 2010


I'm not sure why relatively weak, slow, puny, clawless, venomless, tasty creatures sharing a habitat with large, powerful, deadly, carnivorous predators would find it unusual to be regarded as prey.

No one wants to be food. Except maybe in certain parts of Germany.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:52 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Community elders believed the growth would lead to the boy being killed in a tiger attack - a fate preventable, according to tribal tradition, by marrying a dog.

This has been the common remedy for preventing cougar attacks in Canada.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:02 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]



I feel like I heard a story recently (past few months) on NPR that subsequent, recent analysis of the tiger corpses revealed they hadn't eaten anywhere close to the number of people as believed at the time.


Does anyone know more about this? I too was entranced by Corbett's book as a child, but now it sets off my bullshit meter. The death totals seem awfully high, and the stories about the lone white man doing what thousands of brown people could not do for themselves reeks of the same racist fantasy that runs through everything from Dances With Wolves to Avatar.
posted by LarryC at 5:18 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


tellurian: "The PDF's on Internet Archive won't work on a Kindle
Is the Kindle (Beta) format that archive.org offers no good?
"

Sure, if you want mobi.. but why when you can get real scans of real books.
posted by stbalbach at 5:29 PM on February 25, 2010


No one wants to be food.

Spoken like Timothy Treadwell [laughtrack].

No, I just find the tone of the "man-eating tiger" tales enjoyable: "I say, do you know, some jumped-up tigers with ideas above their station have the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to eat people!"
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:32 PM on February 25, 2010


Indian toddler marries dog to stop tiger attack.

Oh, Kumaon.
posted by scatter gather at 6:39 PM on February 25, 2010


The Lions of Tsavo tell a similar story. It's been suggested that one of the lions had tooth problems and resorted to soft food (ie, humans) out of desperation.
posted by SPrintF at 6:43 PM on February 25, 2010


FelliniBlank: "I'm not sure why relatively weak, slow, puny, clawless, venomless, tasty creatures sharing a habitat with large, powerful, deadly, carnivorous predators would find it unusual to be regarded as prey."

Well, because it is. Tigers, as rule, don't eat people, except under very unusual conditions - namely, when Tigers are so old and crippled they can't catch anything else. This is one of the main themes of Man Eaters Of Kumaon.

There is one exception. The tigers of the Sundarbans are the only known population to regularly feed on humans as a matter of course. No one knows why.
posted by stbalbach at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


SPrintF beat me to it, but here's a Smithsonian piece on the "Man-Eaters of Tsavo," a pair of lions alleged to have eaten 135 people in 1898. Recent analysis of hair samples suggests that number was more like 35.
posted by lost_cause at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2010


Recent research suggest the Tsavo man-eaters only chomped about 35 people, not the hundreds they were said to.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2010


jinx!
posted by gottabefunky at 6:51 PM on February 25, 2010


Also from the Smithsonian, "The Truth about Lions," offers some insight to the poor human v. big hungry cats problem.
posted by lost_cause at 6:57 PM on February 25, 2010


Joe Rogan talks about the Sunderband tigers
(NSFW language but it's beeped out)
posted by nudar at 11:21 PM on February 25, 2010


Tigers in India killing because people are moving in on their territory...yeah, thats more natural than white N.O. police officers killing black people just because they can.

Carry on, tigers. Show us humans that nature has consequences for everything we do.

No amount of carbon credits will prevent that.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:53 PM on February 25, 2010


Via trying to figure out how to read this on an iPhone, I discovered the Stanza eBook reader which allows one to share ePub files downloaded to a Mac (dunno about PC) to an iPhone. The actual reader app completely blows away the Kindle, too.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:29 AM on February 26, 2010



The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, Jim Corbett, Oxford university press, ISBN 0-19-562256-1


This is another book by Jim Corbett. Although this leopard has been attributed to have killed only 125 people (when compared to the other man-eaters), the amount of time and effort it takes to track the leopard down makes for an intense and fascinating read.
posted by caboose at 1:44 AM on February 26, 2010


hal_c_on: "Tigers in India killing because people are moving in on their territory..."

Uh..no.
posted by stbalbach at 2:44 PM on February 26, 2010


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