By Ian Love – Three Unforgettable Tiger Men

These three unforgettable Tiger men are Jim Corbett, Kenneth Anderson and Billy Arjan Singh.Like many people today I am aware of dedicated men and women in India and indeed all over the world who are heavily involved in conserving the tiger, its habitat and the other wildlife eking out a living in India’s forests. There are Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India, who many years ago, warned of the plight of India’s wildlife and accordingly, must never be forgotten by the younger generation.
Among them they wrote around 20 books on hunting tigers and leopards including many man-eaters. Yes, they were hunters in a day when that was fashionable and acceptable. But they soon realized that India’s wild life, in particular the tiger, was in grave danger of being eliminated. They began to try and create an interest in conservation. The first two men through their books and published articles. And Billy Arjan Singh, also in his writings but more famously in his unceasing efforts, fights against authorities and single handed determined efforts to create Dudhwa National Park in North India.

Edward James Corbett

The Three unforgettable Tiger men of India

Edward James Corbett (Jim Corbett)

As a child I became obsessed with the tiger  and now approaching the age of 80, I still am. I discovered Jim Corbett when he wrote his first book, “Man-eaters of Kumaon”. Not only I loved his detailed accounts of hunting man-eaters, but I was also influenced by the man himself. He was quiet, unassuming and knowledgeable about tigers and all Indian wildlife.  Born in  Naini Tal in Kumaon in 1875, he lived there until 1947 when he and his sister left their beloved India to go to Kenya. A decision I think he regretted for the rest of his life.
He died from a heart attack in Kenya in 1955. During his time in India he became revered by his local villagers as ‘Carpet Sahib’ not only because of his successful efforts in ridding them of the terrifying presence of man-eating tigers and leopards. But also by his caring helpful attitude to them. He spoke their dialect and empathized with them. You are highly encouraged to read his books and get to know a wonderful human being.

Kenneth Anderson

The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India

Kenneth Anderson with his Dog Napier

Kenneth Anderson had a similarity to Corbett in as much as he too was a hunter of man-eating tigers, leopards and rogue elephants, but in South India. He too loved the forest, its tribal people and its wildlife and through his many books imparted his knowledge to the reader. Like Corbett  he was a domiciled Indian.
Descended from Scottish forbears (Corbett’s were Irish) he lived, worked and died in Bangalore aged 64 from prostate cancer. However, unlike Corbett, Anderson married and had a daughter, June and a son, Donald. His style of writing lacks Corbett’s  gripping intensity,  and many people tended to decry him as a second best Jim Corbett, an opinion I could never agree with. But there is no doubt that his contribution to the lives of his local people was vast. He probably accounted for more man-eaters than Corbett. I would think that many of his books are, or soon will be out of print. I would recommend that the younger generation acquires them as soon as possible.

Billy Arjun Singh

The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India

Billy Arjun Singh

Sadly I never met these two men but I did meet the third and most recent of our three tiger men, Billy Arjun Singh. Billy was born into a privileged life in North India, of virtually Indian royalty. By his own admission, when young, he was a perfectly horrible little child and youth. He had no regard for wildlife other that to shoot it with his air rifle. Like the other two men Billy’s day of enlightenment arrived and he turned from hunter to wildlife conservationist.
He was a physically  powerful man with a stubborn strong fighting attitude to authority of just about every form. These attributes were probably the reason that he finally was successful in creating single  handedly, Dudhwa National Park in North India on the Nepal border. His many books detail his struggle to farm that area, reintroduce the famous tigress Tara to the wild and three leopards and his successful efforts in making Dudhwa a National Park.
The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India

Ian Love with Billy Arjun SIngh in 1987 at Tiger Haven, Dudhwa national Park

The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India

Mary, Billy Arjun Singh, and Ian Love at Tiger Haven in 1989

Meeting Billy

I first met him at Tiger Haven in 1987 when he was a fit strong 70-year-old. Unfortunately, I never saw a wild tiger in Dudhwa on that visit. I returned to visit Billy two years later and to my astonishment, he remembered me. For some reason, probably our obsession with the tiger, I think he related to me, something which I treasure to this day. On that second visit, early one morning at dawn, my wife and I, with Billy, set off to find a tiger, hopefully.

My first Tiger

He put us both up into a tree beside the river, left us there and quietly entered a large area of very long grass which he thought contained a tiger lying up after a kill. Think about this for a minute or two. He thought there was tiger guarding a kill somewhere in that long grass and he simply walked in there carrying only his “tiger stick” over his shoulder! Up in our tree we waited silently in the hope that I would see my very first wild Indian tiger. On a high banking above the river the long grass parted and a beautiful tiger slowly emerged in the misty light of dawn.
We could not help gasping with excitement and this slight noise was heard by the tiger 40 yards away. It immediately pin pointed our position in the tree, stopped for a minute and stared at us. Then slowly and with a tiger’s total confidence walked down the river bank and began to cross an old huge grey fallen tree bridging the entire width of the river. Half way over the tree it stopped again, turned and looked at us in the tree before continuing its crossing.
Then he disappeared silently into the forest on the other side. I shall never ever forget that sight. A wild tiger, my first, in the dawn light, the silence, mist rising in spirals off the slowly running river and its fixed stare at us. All that was thanks to Billy.

Billy was a great man i admired

and treasured his subsequent phone calls and letters. He, like the previous two tiger men, is now dead, but must never be forgotten. Their collective efforts from different backgrounds and walks of life, in wild life conservation and their love of the tiger, the local people and India herself deserve an everlasting place in our hearts and minds. They certainly have in mine for the few years I have, hopefully, ahead of me.
Nowadays the internet makes it easy to find books and people. If you read this article, please find these three men, read their books and make them a part of your heart, mind and life, you will not regret it.
—–Contributed by Ian Love, a passionate Tiger Lover

My meeting with Ian and Mary

Ian Love and Mary, I met them first in 2001 in Bandhavgarh national Park. His love for Tigers and their conservation became evident to me very early. I had the privilege of doing many Tiger safaris in Bandhavgarh National park with him and Mary.
The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India

With Ian Love

They have been to India 8 times over the past 30 years. During these visits he has been to Corbett, Panna, Kanha,
Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Tadoba, Dudhwa National Parks in India and Bardia and Chitwan in Nepal. He has seen Tigers in every one of his trips, on a regular basis. Their last trip to India was in February of this year. They saw tigers on every, trip every day in Tadoba, Kanha, Ranthambore and Corbett. Very lucky, but an indication that the tiger numbers are increasing. If you have less time to read his books, there are several documentaries and films made on Corbett’s life. You may see one on Man-Eaters of Kumaon by clicking here.
In the year 2002, Ian and Mary contributed very generously towards Bandhavgarh National Park. They donated 200 sweaters, 200 water bottles, 100 mosquito nets, 100 pair of shoes, 2 motor cycles, and a Nikon camera to the rangers of Bandhavgarh.
He and Mary do visit India often, and will hopefully visit my home that sometime shall come up in the Corbett country.
I agree with Ian, that these books might be out of print soon, so get your copies and read them. These books have plenty of tell tales of Indian Wildlife. And should you want to understand what a Tiger is all about there is no better initiation than these books, as they have come from The Three Unforgettable Tiger men of India.
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Sharad Vats

Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered. Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park. Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here's a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger. Buy now on Amazon