The Manhunting Champawat Tiger

Grace Higgins | November 26th, 2019

The Champawat Tiger is an infamous tiger that roamed Northern India, which perfected a strategy for hunting humans. Over four years, the tiger hunted and killed more than 400 people before the British decided enough was enough and got serious about hunting it down.

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When it comes down to it, these days, most people do not have anything to fear when it comes to tigers. Although zookeepers have to be careful and it is not by any means a safe profession. If you go back a couple of decades into the 20th century India, then you will find yourself on a completely different landscape. One where you are the prey of a ferocious predator tiger, that has trained to hunt humans. There is, of course, a very valid reason why the tiger is the villain in The Jungle Book.

Tigers were recorded to kill over 1,000 people a year during the end of the 20th century, and in the 1930s there was even a five year period where it is thought they killed over 7,000 people per year. When you compare this to sharks killing only about five people per year, it paints the picture of just how dangerous the tiger was. Nowadays, due to the tiger being hunted to near extinction and urbanization, tiger killings are much rarer.

One legendary predator was feared above all: the Champawat Tiger, who was an insatiable man-eater. It turns out it was a tigress, and she began her reign of terror and destruction around 1903 in Nepal. It is thought she had killed over 200 people when she was finally driven over the border by the Nepalese Army into India, where she went on a bloody killing spree that took down 234 more people in villages around Northern India.

During this era, tiger hunters, as a result, did save the lives of hundreds of people and were sought after. Colonel James Corbett, who operated in colonial India and specialized in tracking down man-eating beasts was called in to track down the infamous tiger. After arriving in the village of Champawat, the tiger soon attacks again killing a 16-year-old girl. Corbett was able to follow the trail of blood and finally, the tiger was killed in 1907 by his hunting rifle.

Corbett concluded that the tiger had broken teeth, and this had led her to hunt man as her it would have been impossible to kill its usual prey. Corbett did have a running theory that most predator animals were only pushed to hunting humans if forced to by external conditions, such as injuries or old age. In his later life, he became a conservationist and opened a national park in India.

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