Suggestion to rename Jim Corbett National Park

Ashwini Choubey

India’s Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Environment, Forests and Climate Change (wow, what a title!), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, wants to change the name of the well-known Jim Corbett National Park, India’s biggest wildlife sanctuary, to its previous name which was Ramganga. The previous name is a reference to the river which flows through it. The park is at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Minister suggested the name in a note in the guestbook to the museum in the park.

Jim Corbett

Jim Corbett. Photo in public domain.

His suggestion has been rejected pretty well out of hand. Jim Corbett is part of the history of that area and he was fĂȘted by both colonial forces and pro-independence politicians. He was born near to the park in 1875. He spent his life in the area and became known as a big-game hunter. He used to shoot tigers who terrorised villagers. Later on in his life he was involved in conservation by spreading awareness about how to protect wildlife from human activities.

Ashwini Choubey

Ashwini Choubey. Photo in public domain.

A man, Naved Jamal, who runs a conservation charity in the park which is situated in the northern Uttarakhand state said: “Let them try to change it. We won’t allow it. The park is named after Corbett because of his legacy. He loved the area and he was more Indian than those who want to change the name.”

There have been some name changes by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The renaming of several places has been a push towards Hindu cultural nationalism. However, the BJP chief minister in Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, dismissed the suggestion in saying: “Corbett’s soul resides here and so there is no question of changing the name.”

The park has 163 tigers (estimated!). The park was named after Corbett a year after his death in 1955. He had moved to Kenya in 1947.

Corbett Tiger Reserve

Corbett Tiger Reserve. One of the best and in the north. Photo by LeeAnne Adams.

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