Readers who visit the recently acquired and critically endangered Sumatran tigers at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo should be required to first peruse the book “No Beast So Fierce” by Dane Huckelbridge. Those readers would re-discover proper respect for the tiger, which is Asia’s apex predator. The public’s perception of tigers has gradually been softened by cultural influences from A.A.Milne to Kellogg’s cereal advertisements. They are definitely not a cuddly species.
The unifying thread of this book is a 1907 confrontation between an unheralded British hunter and a Bengal tigress which had killed and eaten 436 humans in Nepal and Northern India. Like movies featuring encounters between humans and ferocious predators such as the great white shark in “Jaws” and the African lions in “The Ghost and the Darkness,” the search for the man-killer known as the Champawat Tiger provides a suspenseful narrative.
However, the underlying value of the book is the research documented by the author exploring the circumstances which inexorably brought a lowborn Irish railroad employee who was born in India into a deadly duel with a creature ordinarily preferring to avoid human contact. The same issues responsible for transforming Jim Corbett into a legendary tiger hunter acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth II also impelled him to become the foremost champion for the preservation of the Bengal tiger in its natural habitat. One of the largest tiger preserves in India today is known as Jim Corbett National Park.