The difference between Jim Corbett writing a first-hand account in the 1940s and Dane Huckelbridge recycling that account today is the ideology. Jim Corbett’s story is a modest, downright self-effacing account of how a local sportsman went to the assistance of terrified Indian villagers and tracked down and killed an extraordinarily bold and aggressive man-eating tigress who’d killed and eaten a record 436 people. Corbett does attribute the tiger’s human predation to a jaw injury from an old bullet-wound, but Corbett tells a stoic and under-stated modern version of the classic man versus monster story.
For Huckelbridge though, the man versus monster saga is just a secondary problem arising from a more basic, more important conflict: British Colonialism versus Pristine Native India.
Then there is Jim Corbett, the now-legendary hunter who was finally commissioned by the British government to end the Champawat Tigerâ€™s reign. To many, even in present-day India, he is nothing short of a secular saint, a brave and selfless figure who risked life and limb to defend poor villagers when no one else would. To others, particularly academics engaged with post-colonial ecologies, he is just another perpetrator of the Eurocentric paternalism that defined the colonial experience. Each is a fair judgment. …
Which brings us, inevitably, to colonialism itselfâ€”a topic far too broad and multifaceted for any single book, let alone one thatâ€™s concerned primarily with man-eating tigers. Yet it is colonialism, undeniably, and the onslaught of environmental destruction that it almost universally heralds, that served as the primary catalyst in the creation of our man-eater. It may have been a poacherâ€™s bullet in Nepal that first turned the Champawat Tiger upon our kind, but it was a full century of disastrous ecological mismanagement in the Indian subcontinent that drove it out of the wild forests and grasslands it should have called home, and allowed it to become the prodigious killer that it was.
What becomes clear upon closer historical examination is that the Champawat was not an incident of nature gone awryâ€”it was in fact a man-made disaster. From Valmik Thapar to Jim Corbett himself, any tiger wallah could tell you the various factors that can turn a normal tiger into a man-eater: a disabling wound or infirmity, a loss of prey species, or a degradation of natural habitat. In the case of the Champawat, however, we find not just one but all three of these factors to be irrefutably present. Essentially, by the late nineteenth century, the British in the United Provinces of northern India and their Rana dynasty counterparts in western Nepal had created, through a combination of irresponsible forestry tactics, agricultural policies, and hunting practices, the ideal conditions for an ecological catastrophe.
Which is why this particular story of environmental conflict is not only relevant, but urgent and necessary. At its core, Jim Corbettâ€™s quest to rid the valleys of Kumaon of the Champawat Tiger is dramatic and straightforward, but the tensions that underscore it contain the resonance of much larger and more grievous issues. Yes, it is a timeless tale of cunning and courage, but also a lesson, still very much pertinent today, about how deforestation, industrialization, and colonization can upset the fragile balance of cultures and ecosystems alike, creating unseen pressures that, at a certain point, must find their release.
All of Mr. Huckelbridge’s pious notions about “ecosystems” healthy or otherwise, “apex predators,” proper forestry, suitable hunting practices, game conservation,and Environmentalism are entirely Western ideas. When he applies them to Kumaon, he himself is being colonialist.
The Champawat maneater was undoubtedly injured by an unskilled native poacher armed with a primitive musket, shooting at a tiger in defiance of hunting laws and game permits invented and imposed by the British Raj. How Huckelbridge can claim that this occurred because the poor tiger was driven out of some unidentified “forests and grasslands” by “a century of ecological mismanagement and environmental destruction” to arrive at the forests and grasslands of Kumaon is unexplained. Where exactly was it that all this alleged mismanagement and destruction occurred? Were there no native tigers in Kumaon previous to all this nearby mismanagement and destruction? What exactly does Huckelbridge think the British (and their Rana dynasty of Western Nepal counterparts) mismanaged and destroyed? Why are the British supposedly to blame for (politically independent) Nepalese actions and policies anyway?
It’s all just a farrago of Enviro-sanctimony and cant lavishly seasoned with the usual “British Colonialism was simply awful” left-wing fantasy.
In reality, the difference between Pre-Raj India and the India of Jim Corbett was that, in the former, tigers undoubtedly had more commonly the upper hand, most humans were unarmed or poorly armed, maneaters munched their way through the Indian peasantry unrebuked without records or scores of the numbers eaten ever being known or kept.
Huckelbridge’s book is nothing more than a breathless re-telling of one chapter of Maneaters of Kumaon accompanied by a truckload of PC nonsense and a lot sanctimonious self-righteousness. Consign this one to Kali!
Hannes Wessels is angry that his teenage daughters are being indoctrinated with the Left’s Victimology approach to History. So angry that he produced a rant full of denied, ignored, and absolutely unspeakable truths.
That â€œtruthâ€ goes right to the core of busting the myth about colonialism being a blight on the continent [of Africa] and the independence that followed being a blessing, when in fact, the very converse is true. That would be made embarrassingly obvious if the countries of Europe and North America were to make it known that they were back in the slave trade and boats were on their way to the ports. The response from the forsaken millions, destined for lives of endless poverty, would doubtless be overwhelming, and the rush for the ships would be unstoppable. If the demand were to be there, I have little doubt Africa would soon be bereft of people. The vast majority would choose to abandon their purported â€œfreedomâ€ on a continent fast reversing back into anarchy and savagery and become â€œunfreeâ€ again under European suzerainty.
Hobbes in Leviathan painted a grim picture when he suggested that the natural state of mankind is a â€œwar of all against allâ€ in which menâ€™s lives are â€œsolitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.â€ Unfortunately, in most cases, especially in Africa, heâ€™s been proved right. But if there is a chance to escape this dystopia, it rests with that part of the world where Europeans built societies on a foundation forged out of the Christian ethos. But of course, nobody is supposed to know that, either.
“The settlement of other continents by Europeans is called colonialism. The settlement of Europe by people from other continents is called multiculturalism and emergence of a global society.” –Anonymous.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, being a literate chap educated at Eton and Oxford, naturally had the famous Kipling poem come to mind & tongue when invited to bang the bell in a temple of the Great God Budd in what used to be known as Rangoon, Burma.
The wet ends at the Guardian, and the British Left generally, had a cow over the incident.
Boris Johnson caught on camera reciting Kipling in Myanmar temple.
Foreign secretaryâ€™s impromptu recital of colonial-era poem was so embarrassing the UK ambassador was forced to stop him.
‘Not appropriate’: Boris Johnson recites Kipling poem in Myanmar temple.
The foreign secretary has been accused of â€œincredible insensitivityâ€ after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January.
Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in the capital Yangon, when he started uttering the opening verse to The Road to Mandalay, including the line: â€œThe temple bells they say/ Come you back you English soldier.â€
Kiplingâ€™s poem captures the nostalgia of a retired serviceman looking back on his colonial service and a Burmese girl he kissed. Britain colonised Myanmar from 1824 to 1948 and fought three wars in the 19th century, suppressing widespread resistance.
Johnsonâ€™s impromptu recital was so embarrassing that the UK ambassador to Myanmar, Andrew Patrick, was forced to stop him. …
The previously unbroadcast footage shows the diplomat managing to halt Johnson before he could get to the line about a â€œBloominâ€™ idol made oâ€™ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Buddâ€ â€“ a reference to the Buddha.
The gaffe came on the first visit to Myanmar by a British foreign secretary in five years. He had taken part in a ritual involving pouring water over a golden statue of what he described as â€œa very big guinea pigâ€, when he approached a 42-tonne bell, rang it with a wooden stick and spontaneously started reciting Kiplingâ€™s poem.
A visibly tense ambassador stood by as Johnson continued: â€œThe wind is in the palm trees and the temple bells they say …â€ Then Patrick reminded him: â€œYouâ€™re on mic,â€ adding: â€œProbably not a good idea…â€
â€œWhat?â€ Johnson replied. â€œThe Road to Mandalay?â€
â€œNo,â€ said the ambassador sternly. â€œNot appropriate.â€
â€œNo?â€ replied Johnson looking down at his mobile phone. â€œGood stuff.â€
â€œIt is stunning he would do this there,â€ said Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK. â€œThere is a sensitivity about British colonialism and it is something that people in Burma are still resentful about. British colonial times were seen as a humiliation and an insult.
â€œIt shows an incredible lack of understanding especially now we are seeing the impact of Buddhist nationalism, especially in Rakine state [where Rohingya muslims have been been the subject of violent persecution].â€
BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!
‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay…
When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay…
But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay…
I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay…
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
O the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay !