Tigers of Chowgarh

Last updated

The Tigers of Chowgarh were a pair of man-eating Bengal tigers, consisting of an old tigress and her sub-adult cub, which for over a five-year period killed a reported 64 people in eastern Kumaon over an area spanning 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2). The tigress was attacking humans initially alone, but later she was assisted by her sub-adult cub. The figures however are uncertain, as the natives of the areas the tigers frequented claimed double that number, and they do not take into account victims who survived direct attacks but died subsequently. Both tigers were killed by Jim Corbett.


First victim

On December 15, 1925, a group of men from the village of Dalkania went up a hill to the hut of a Bhutia in order to complain to him for having seemingly allowed his goats into their crop fields. The man’s sheep dog was found dead, and the next day, his remains were found 100 yards (90 metres) from the hut.

Jim Corbett was called upon from Nainital to hunt down the tigers in February 1929. Three man-eaters had been reported in the Kumaon Division at the time, and Corbett chose to hunt the Chowgarh tigers due to their higher body count. A map recording the sites of each kill showed that the tigers were most active in the villages of the north-eastern face of the Kala Agar ridge. Corbett arrived at the Kala Agar Forest Bungalow in April that year after a four-day march. The last victim in the area had been a 22-year-old cattle grazer. The victim’s grandmother offered Corbett three buffaloes, in addition to his four, for use as bait. Upon receiving updates on the tigers' whereabouts, Corbett set off to the village of Dalkania 16 km (10 miles) away the next day. Upon arriving, he was informed that the tigers had unsuccessfully attacked a party of women picking corn 16 km (10 miles) north of Dalkania. Corbett left for the village at 3pm and arrived the next day to find the village in a state of panic.

Hunt for the tigers

At midday, Corbett left for the valley where the villagers had heard the tigers calling. By evening, he reached the upper end of the valley without having seen anything, and by the following afternoon, Corbett was met by a cattle grazer stating that the tigers had taken a cow that night. Tracking the tigers to a ravine, he found the predators eating the dead cow. Corbett fired at the lighter-coloured animal, assuming it was the adult. Upon hearing the shot, the other tiger bolted, and Corbett, upon examining the carcass, found that the dead tiger was in fact the cub. After the cub was shot, the tigress attacks on human became less successful, as she was sometimes unable to kill victims on her own.

First hunt for the tigress

The following day, Corbett decided to use the four buffalo baits. For ten days, there were no reports of attacks and the buffalos were untouched. On the eleventh day, a woman was attacked half a mile (800 m) on the far side of the village. After dressing her wounds, Corbett tied a bait goat on a nearby tree, though it was not taken. Three days later, Corbett was informed that a woman had been killed in Lohali, a village five miles (8 km) to the south of Dalkania. Upon arrival, Corbett was approached by a village elder who implored him to save his daughter who had escaped from the tiger with serious injuries. Though Corbett dressed her wounds with permanganate, she died the following night. After a week, Corbett left Dalkania, though he promised to return upon hearing of another attack. During the journey, Corbett saw fresh pugmarks, and warned a buffalo herder nearby to be wary. Immediately after Corbett left, the herder was attacked by the tigress, which was driven off by the buffaloes. Before dying, the herder warned his village of the tigress’ presence.

Second hunt for the tigress

In February the next year, Corbett returned to Dalkania, where many deaths had occurred since his departure. Corbett tied a buffalo in the forest near the village, and shot two tigers accepting the bait. Upon inspecting the carcasses, he found that neither were the man-eater. After staying in Dalkania for a few weeks, Corbett left to attend an appointment with the district officials in the terai.

Third hunt for the tigress

On 22 March 1930, Corbett received an urgent request from his District Commissioner to go to Kala Agar, fifty miles (80 km) from Nainital. On arrival, Corbett was told that the tigress had recently killed a woman in the vicinity. Corbett tied his four buffaloes from Dalkania in strategic locations, one of which was killed four nights later. The culprits turned out to be a pair of leopards, which were immediately shot in order to prevent them from killing more bait.

Death of the tigress and post-mortem

On 11 April 1930, 19 days after his arrival in Kala Agar, Corbett and two other men tied the buffalo baits near an area where a young man had been previously killed. When positioning himself in a ravine, Corbett’s companions rushed to him, saying they had heard the tigress nearby. Corbett encountered the tigress face to face shortly after. It was sitting next to a large boulder. Corbett fatally shot the animal from a distance of eight feet (5 m), and its death brought an end to the attacks.

The tigress was shot two miles (3.2 km) west of the mountain village of Kala Agar.

An examination of the tigress’ body showed that her claws and one canine tooth were broken and her front teeth were completely worn down. Corbett concluded that these disabilities made it hard for the tiger to kill game, making it resort to humans.

Corbett killed the cub with a .450/400 Nitro Express double rifle made by W.J. Jeffery & Co, and the mother with a lighter Rigby Mauser made on Mauser 98 action by John Rigby & Company. Corbett referred to this rifle as a .275 Rigby, which is the same calibre as a 7×57mm Mauser.

Related Research Articles

Nainital Town in Uttarakhand, India

Nainital is a town and popular hill station in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. It is the headquarters of the Nainital district. It is the judicial capital of Uttarakhand, the High Court of the state being located there and is the headquarters of the Kumaon division as well as an eponymous district. It also houses the Governor of Uttarakhand, who resides in the Raj Bhavan. Nainital was the summer capital of the United Provinces.

Bengal tiger Tiger population in Indian subcontinent

The Bengal tiger is a population of the Panthera tigris tigris subspecies. It ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today. It is considered to belong to the world's charismatic megafauna.

Jim Corbett National Park National park in India

Jim Corbett National Park is a national park in India located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand state. The first national park in India, it was established in 1936 during the British Raj and named Hailey National Park after William Malcolm Hailey, a governor of the United Provinces in which it was then located. In 1956, nearly a decade after India's independence, it was renamed Corbett National Park after the hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett, who had played a leading role in its establishment and had died the year before. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.

<i>Two Brothers</i> (2004 film) 2004 French film

Two Brothers is a 2004 French-British-American adventure drama film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Starring Guy Pearce and Freddie Highmore, it tells the story about two Indochinese tiger brothers named Kumal and Sangha, who are separated from their parents as cubs and then reunited a year later as adults to find their way back home. It was distributed by Pathé in Europe and Universal Pictures in other countries worldwide.

Jim Corbett British hunter, tracker, naturalist and author

Edward James Corbett was a British hunter, tracker, naturalist, and author who hunted a number of man-eating tigers and leopards in India. He held the rank of colonel in the British Indian Army and was frequently called upon by the Government of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, now the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to kill man-eating tigers and leopards that were preying on people in the nearby villages of the Kumaon-Garhwal Regions.

7×57mm Mauser

The 7×57mm Mauser is a first-generation smokeless powder rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. It is known as .275 Rigby in the United Kingdom. It was developed by Paul Mauser of the Mauser company in 1892 and adopted as a military cartridge by Spain in 1893. It was subsequently adopted by several other countries as the standard military cartridge, and although now obsolete as a military cartridge, it remains in widespread international use as a sporting round. Many sporting rifles in this calibre were made by British riflemakers, among whom John Rigby was prominent; and, catering for the British preference for calibres to be designated in inches, Rigby called this chambering the .275 bore after the measurement of a 7 mm rifle's bore across the lands.

<i>Man-Eaters of Kumaon</i> 1944 book by Jim Corbett

Man-Eaters of Kumaon is a 1944 book written by hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. It details the experiences that Corbett had in the Kumaon region of India from the 1900s to the 1930s, while hunting man-eating Bengal tigers and Indian leopards. One tiger, for example, was responsible for over 400 human deaths. Man-Eaters of Kumaon is the best known of Corbett's books, and contains 10 stories of tracking and shooting man-eaters in the Indian Himalayas during the early years of the twentieth century. The text also contains incidental information on flora, fauna and village life. Seven of the stories were first published privately as Jungle Stories.

Black tiger Color of tiger

A black tiger is a rare colour variant of the tiger, and is not a distinct species or geographic subspecies.

Mukteshwar Village in Uttarakhand, India

Mukteshwar is a village and tourist destination in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. It sits high in the Kumaon Hills at an altitude of 2171 meters (7500 feet), 51 km from Nainital, 72 km from Haldwani, and 343 km from Delhi.

Champawat Tiger Bengal tigress responsible for over 400 deaths

The Champawat Tiger was a Bengal Tigress responsible for an estimated 436 deaths in Nepal and the Kumaon division of India, during the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century. Her attacks have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest number of fatalities from a tiger. She was shot in 1907 by Jim Corbett.

Leopard of Rudraprayag A leopard known to eat humans

The Leopard of Rudraprayag was a male man-eating leopard, reputed to have killed over 125 people. It was eventually killed by hunter and author Jim Corbett.

Ramnagar, Nainital Town in Uttarakhand, India

Ramnagar(Kumaoni: Rāmnagar) is a town and municipal board in the Nainital district of Kumaon, India. It is located approximately 65 kilometres (40 mi) from Nainital, the headquarters of the district.

Literary references to Nainital

The town of Nainital, India was founded in 1841 by P. Barron, a sugar trader from Shahjahanpur. By 1846 the church St John's in the Wilderness was founded and a hill station had begun to flourish. Among the authors who referred to Nainital in their writings were Rudyard Kipling, Munshi Premchand, and Jim Corbett. This page consists of references to Nainital in literature.

Billy Arjan Singh Indian hunter and conservationist

Kunwar "Billy" Arjan Singh was an Indian hunter turned conservationist and author. He was the first who tried to reintroduce tigers and leopards from captivity into the wild.

Tiger attack

Tiger attacks are an extreme form of human–wildlife conflict which occur for various reasons and have claimed more human lives than attacks by any of the other big cats. The most comprehensive study of deaths due to tiger attacks estimates that at least 373,000 people died due to tiger attacks between 1800 and 2009 averaging about 1800 kills per year, the majority of these attacks occurring in India, Nepal and Southeast Asia.

W. D. M. Bell

Walter Dalrymple Maitland Bell, known as Karamojo Bell after the Karamoja sub-region in Uganda, which he travelled extensively, was a Scottish adventurer, big game hunter in East Africa, soldier, decorated fighter pilot, sailor, writer, and painter.

The Thak man-eater was a female Bengal tiger who killed and ate four human victims between September and November 1938. She was operating in Kumaon, at the Nepalese border, between the villages Thak, Chuka, Kot Kindri and Sem. The tigress was shot at about 6:00pm on 30 November 1938 by Jim Corbett. This was the last man-eater killed by Corbett. The story about Thak man-eater is known as one of the most dramatic stories about man-eating animals. It was the last story in the USA edition of the bestselling book Man-Eaters of Kumaon. In the UK edition the last story of the book was "Just Tigers". The book Man-Eaters of Kumaon became the book of the year in USA in 1945, and a Hollywood film Man-Eater of Kumaon was made in 1948.

The Chuka man-eating tiger was a male Bengal tiger responsible for the death of three boys from Thak village in the Ladhya Valley in 1937. It was shot by Jim Corbett in April 1937 who noted that the animal had a broken canine tooth and several gunshot wounds in various parts of his body.

Bachelor of Powalgarh Bengal tiger

The Bachelor of Powalgarh, also known as the King of Powalgarh, was an unusually large Bengal tiger, and is said to be 10 feet 7 inches long. From 1920 to 1930, this male tiger was the most sought-after big-game trophy in the United Provinces. Jim Corbett shot the tiger in the winter of 1930, and later told the story in his 1944 book Man-Eaters of Kumaon.

Leopard attack

Leopard attacks are attacks inflicted upon humans, other leopards and other animals by the leopard. The frequency of leopard attacks on humans varies by geographical region and historical period. Despite the leopard's extensive range from sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia, attacks are regularly reported only in India and Nepal. Among the five "big cats", leopards are less likely to become man-eaters—only jaguars and snow leopards have a less fearsome reputation. However, leopards are established predators of non-human primates, sometimes preying on species as large as the western lowland gorilla. Other primates may make up 80% of the leopard's diet. While leopards generally avoid humans, they tolerate proximity to humans better than lions and tigers, and often come into conflict with humans when raiding livestock.