Champawat Tiger

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The Champawat Tiger was a Bengal tigress responsible for an estimated 436 deaths in Nepal and the Kumaon area of India, during the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th century.[1] Her attacks have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest number of fatalities from a tiger.[2] She was shot in 1907 by Jim Corbett.[3]

History[edit]

According to Peter Byrne, professional hunter and author from Nepal, the tiger began her attacks in a Rupal village in western Nepal, Himalayas.[4] Hunters were sent in to kill the tiger, but she managed to evade them. Eventually, the Nepalese Army was called in. Despite failing to capture or kill the tiger, soldiers organised a massive beat and managed to force the tiger to abandon her territory and drive her across the border (river Sarda) into India, where she continued her killing activities in the Kumaon District. The tiger would adjust her hunting strategy so as to best hunt and evade humans; traveling great distances between villages (as much as 32 kilometers in a day) in her new territory both to claim new victims and evade pursuers; her behavior becoming more like a Siberian tiger in her habits and creating a larger territory to encompass multiple villages in the Kumaon area, with Champawat being close to the center of her territory. Most of her victims consisted of young women and children, as they were the ones most at risk thanks to their habit of going into the forest to collect resources for feeding livestock, collecting firewood, and for crafting.[5] All her kills happened during the daylight (as Corbett writes, he is not aware of a single case of a man-eating tiger killing a human during the night). Life across the region grew paralyzed, with men often refusing to leave their huts for work after hearing the tiger's roars from the forest.[6]

In 1907, the tiger was killed by British hunter Jim Corbett. The tiger had killed a 16-year-old girl, Premka Devi, in the village of Fungar,[7] near to the town of Champawat, and left a trail of blood, which Corbett followed. After nearly getting ambushed by the tiger while investigating the remains of its victim and scaring her off with two shots from his rifle, Corbett had to abandon the hunt, deciding to use villagers and to organize a beat the next day in the Champa River gorge.[8]

With the help of the tehsildar of Champawat, the beat was organized with about 300 villagers, and the next day, about noon, Corbett shot the tigress dead. Corbett's first shots hit the tigress in the chest and shoulder, and his last shot, made with the tehsildar's rifle to keep it from charging him after he ran out of bullets, hit the cat in the foot, causing it to collapse 6 m (20 ft) from him. [9]

A postmortem on the tigress showed the upper and lower canine teeth on the right side of her mouth were broken, the upper one in half, the lower one right down to the bone. This injury, a result of an old gunshot, according to Corbett, probably prevented her from hunting her natural prey, and hence, she started to hunt humans.[10] Further examinations made by Corbett during his hunt for the tiger indicated that the cat was in healthy condition physically (other than her teeth), and that she was between 10 and 12 years old.[11]

"After bringing down the Champawat Tiger, Jim Corbett acquired a reputation as the leading hunter of man-eaters. This ability served him well, at a time when deforestation and diminishing prey were driving more and more tigers and leopards to hunt humans for food."[12]

Champawat town[edit]

In Champawat, near the Chataar Bridge and on the way to Lohaghat, there is a "cement board" marking the place where the tigress was finally brought down. The details about the Champawat Tigress and how she was brought down can be found in the book Maneaters of Kumaon (1944), written by Corbett himself.

In popular culture[edit]

The video game Guild Wars 2, features a tiger-themed legendary weapon and accompanying quest series named "Chuka and Champawat".[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tiger and leopard attacks in Nepal Archived 24 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine BBC News (11 July 2012)
  2. ^ Young, Mark C.; Matthews, Peter; McWhirter, Norris (1997). "The Guinness Book of Records 1997". Guinness World Records. Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553576849.
  3. ^ Stephen Mills (2004). Tiger. Firefly Books. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-55297-949-5. OCLC 57209158.
  4. ^ Peter Byrne, Shikari Sahib, Safari Press, 2007
  5. ^ Huckelbridge, Dane (2019). No Beast So Fierce. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 157–194. ISBN 9780062678843.
  6. ^ "Top 10 Worst Man Eaters In History". Listverse. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  7. ^ Premka Devi, the Last Victim of Champawat Man-Eater, by Preetum Gheerawo, from the book "Behind Jim Corbett's Stories" Logos, 2016
  8. ^ Huckelbridge, Dane (2019). No Beast So Fierce. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 208–209. ISBN 9780062678843.
  9. ^ Huckelbridge, Dane (2019). No Beast So Fierce. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 222–225. ISBN 9780062678843.
  10. ^ Loadstar. "Man-eaters. The tiger and lion, attacks on humans". Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  11. ^ Huckelbridge, Dane (2019). No Beast So Fierce. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 154. ISBN 9780062678843.
  12. ^ HUCKELBRIDGE, DANE. No Beast so Fierce. the Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History. NEW YORK: WILLIAM MORROW, 2020.
  13. ^ "Spring 2016 Quarterly Update". GuildWars2.com. 19 April 2016. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.

Further reading[edit]