Issue 27 September 2021

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Jim Corbett's Lost Letters 3

Jim writing about the successful hunt for three maneating tigers.

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People|June 2021

This, Jim Corbett's letter to an unknown addressee, was recently found in a provincial auction in England. It recounts, from the hunting area, progress from the hunt as it unfolds. Jim is on the trail of three man-eating tigers; an old female and two younger animals. As he arrives in the area, news of attacks are coming in almost daily.

Dalkhanya Village
Khansun P.O

19th May 1928

Mr dear Sir,

(I have no ink so please forgive pencil). This is just a brief account to let you know how i have been getting on since I left home. I started on the 6th and arrived at this village (40 miles) on the 8th. The village is 1000 feet above the Nandhur, and as I came down from the ridge above a tiger was calling to welcome m on the far side of the river. It was too late to do anything that evening so I settled down in camp. and went out at dawn the next morning to prospect.

I found there were two tigers in the locality, both small females. The information given me by the villagers was correct as far as the number and size of the tigers went. It rained all the 9th and I was unable to get in touch with the tigers. The following morning I left after and early breakfast and did not see my tent again for 72 hours.

During this time spent in jungle tracking in daylight and sitting up on trees at night and living on berries, I saw a beautiful leopard, which I was very sorry to let off and two tigers, one of which I shot, a female very heavy in cub.

Two of the three tigers Jim shot during this hunting adventure. The photograph was sold with the letters.

Shortly after my return to camp, news came of a human kill three miles away; information information was incorrect for passing through a village on my way to the spot I found the supposed kill, a girl if about 20 with several cuts on her head, one of them 8 inches long. It was then about 6 p.m. and too late to get to the jungle before dark, so I stayed at the village and did what I could for the girl.

Fortunately I had a bottle of stuff given to me by McWatters and washed the wounds with it and the girl to everyone’s surprise, has recovered.

Two of my men taking a katra to tie up were quite close to the girl when the tiger attacked her and before doing a quick get away they tied the katra to a bush. The next morning on going to the spot I found the katra had been killed by a pair of leopards they also, I am sorry to say, had to be let off.

The tiger after missing the girl and failing to catch my two men set off in the direction of a village five miles away and the next morning badly mauled a woman. I got word at 4 p.m. and reached the village at 6 (3000 feet up the hill and 3000 feet down the other side) the report stated the woman was dead but I found her alive and mauled, much in the same way as the girl had been. I sat over a goat all night but the tiger had gone.

On return to the camp I received news that one of my katras had been killed four miles away; it was too late to get to the place so I went out the following day and sat up over all that was left (the head and a bit of skin), the tiger came at 10 p.m. and I had a shot in the dark (my electric torch had given out) and missed.

Three of the women attacked lately have managed to tear themselves away...

Six hours later she came back and ate some of the skin. It was useless firing again in the dark and five minutes before daylight came she quietly walked off complaining as she did so of the toughness of katra skin as compared with human.

Men were waiting in camp when I got back to report two buffaloes killed at the village five miles away and at the same spot where the woman had been mauled. 3,000 feet up and down and another night on a tree. The tiger, a sida soda young male from the Bhabar, had eaten half of one one of the buffaloes he previous night so of course he did not come back.

Today I am taking a holiday and after breakfast I am going down the Nandhour a couple of miles to try and raise a fish I can see camp from where I am going and have arranged signals with my men in case I am wanted. If no khubar comes in I will return in the afternoon and put in a good night’s sleep.

You will be interested to hear of the method adopted by the man eaters in killing human-beings. One of them taking up position on high ground waited until its intended victim hurried underneath and then drove its claws into the person’s head. The second one, running in and doing the killing.

The one I shot was the runner in and the other one deprived of her help does not know quite what to do after she has driven her claws home. Three of the women attacked lately have managed to tear themselves away from the claws, two have died and the third one , as already related, is recovering.

Sorry I have so little headway to report. Later, I was told there were fish in the Nandhour two miles from camp. I went 5 miles down the dry bed before I was able to to quench my thirst and another two miles before I found a pool with a foot of water in it, I took five fish of a pound each out of the pool and got back to camp at sunset.

On the way to camp I saw the tracks of a tigress just below Kundal village, where a woman was killed some time ago. The man eater the night after I fired at her travelled along the ridge above my tent and called above Kundal. I will go down tomorrow if no kills are reported and try and follow up the tracks.

21st. I went to Kundal village yesterday, followed the tracks of the tigress up a deep ravine, sat on the side of the ravine all night on quite a hard rock over a katra and shot two tigers. One was exactly the same size and age as the one I killed about a week ago and the other was a very old female with an old and badly infected wound on her left front paw. In addition to this she had a gunshot wound down her right hand leg.

I am not suggesting this tigress is the man killer but at the same time, if there are no kills or attempted kills within the next few days I will pack up and make for home.

Yours sincerely

Sd. J. Corbett.

 The Talla Des Tigress.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

People|June 2021

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