Monday, May 23, 2022

No Beast So Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge

First Lines from Prologue: We do not know the year. Nor does history record the poacher's name. But around the turn of the twentieth century, somewhere on the terai near the Kanchanpur District of western Nepal, a man made a terrible mistake.
 
In Nepal at the turn of the twentieth century, a poacher shoots a tigress in the mouth. The tigress survives, but her injuries mean that she has to find a different source of prey in order to survive. That source of prey? Humans. Moving in and out of the shadows, the tigress becomes extremely successful. By 1907, she has become the deadliest animal in recorded history with over 430 kills.

With government officials at a complete loss, a young local hunter is called upon to stop the tigress before she can strike again. The hunter is railroad employee Jim Corbett who must transform himself into a detective on the trail of a serial killer in order to put a stop to the Champawat Tiger. 

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Part social history, part natural history, part conservation treatise, part detective story, No Beast So Fierce is a comprehensive description of the reign of terror one tigress had over sections of Nepal and India at the turn of the twentieth century. I had come across mentions of the Champawat Tiger several times in my reading, and since my reading was in fiction, I wasn't aware that this tigress was real. When I stumbled across Huckelbridge's book, I knew I had to read it, especially since tigers are one of my two favorite big cats.

One of the most important things Huckelbridge did for me in his book was to give me a much greater respect for tigers. I knew they were marvelous creatures but didn't really understand just how wonderful they are. A tiger is "nature's nearest equivalent to a short-range missile," and to put what the Champawat Tiger did into perspective, she "very nearly consumed the entire NBA."

Hearing this, many people would want nothing more than to kill the tigress and put an end to the whole thing. Done and dusted. No more thought required. The second important thing Huckelbridge does in No Beast So Fierce is to prove that the Champawat Tiger was an entirely man-made disaster. Through many thoughtless government decisions, the tigress's killing field was created, and for anyone interested in the natural world, it is fascinating to read how this was done.

The third important thing that Huckelbridge did was to bring Jim Corbett to my attention. The final scenes where he and the Champawat Tiger meet are extremely tense and almost gave me the impression that I'd fallen into a thriller, and although his success meant that Corbett became the Go-To man for tracking and killing man-eaters, fate had much more in store for him. Corbett wasn't just a killer. In fact, he became one of the stalwarts of the conservation effort to save the Royal Bengal tiger.

If you love wildlife and want to immerse yourself in an engrossing piece of history, I suggest reading No Beast So Fierce. It's an eye-opener and proves once again that if some species of wildlife becomes a "problem" we humans need to look to ourselves to see what we did to create it.
 

No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History
eISBN: 9780062678874
William Morrow © 2019
eBook, 304 pages
 
Non-Fiction, Standalone
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

17 comments:

  1. What a fascinating perspective, Cathy, and one we humans really ought to understand better. Corbett's character interests me a lot, too. It really souns as though there's a lot to think about here.

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  2. I am familiar with this story, although I have not read this book. The tale is almost stranger than fiction. I'm afraid my sympathies were mostly with the tiger.

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  3. Fascinating! I knew nothing about this story before reading your review. I am very curious as to how the tiger's injuries led her to be a man eater. I guess I need to see if I can get a copy of this!

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    1. She was shot in the mouth, destroying almost all her teeth on one side, poor thing.

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  4. Tigers are amazing. I got to pet one once in Thailand, and I'll never forget the experience of being so close to such a beautiful animal.

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  5. I enjoyed this book for the same reasons you enumerated. The section in an early chapter that details all of the skills and power of a tiger has stayed with me.

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    1. Just as they're going to stay with me. They are fabulous creatures.

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  6. I'm a cheetah lover. I don't think I could read an entire book about a tiger who was deadly. Not my thing.

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    1. I said in my review that tigers were one of my two favorite big cats. Cheetahs are the other.

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  7. I know you said that, but I didn't know which other big cat you liked. Cheetah cubs are just adorable. And to watch them running is amazing.

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  8. Hi Cathy, If you liked this book, you must read the books written by Jim Corbett himself especially The Man Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag and The Man Eaters of Kumaon. Champawat tiger is one of the stories in The Man Eaters of Kumaon.They are excellent and show his love for animals especially big cats. The biggest Tiger reserve in India aptly bears his name and it is a thrilling experience to watch tigers in their natural habitat. Thanks to people like Jim Corbett, it is still possible.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your book recommendations. I'll look for them right now!

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