Monday, April 04, 2005

Jim Corbett's Jungle Lore - V

On Fear in jungle, Jim Corbett writes ...

“A wind was blowing, rustling the dry grass and dead leaves, and my imagination filled the jungle round me with hungry bears. During that winter nine bears where shot on that mountain. That I would presently be eaten I had no doubt whatever, and I was quite sure that meal would prove a very painful one for me. If a human being in normal health can die of fear, I would have died that night and many times since.

“Whatever the human race may have been in the days of the cave man, we of the present day are essentially children of the daylight. In daylight we are in our element and the most timid among us can, if the necessity arises, summon the courage needed to face any situation, and we can even laugh and make light of the things that a few hours previously made our skin creep. When daylight fades and night engulfs us the sense of sight we depended on no longer sustains us and we are at the mercy of our imagination. Imagination at the best of times can play strange tricks, and when to imagination is added a firm belief in the supernatural it is not surprising that people surrounded by dense forests, whose field of vision at night is limited to the illumination provided by a pine torch, or a hand lantern when paraffin is available, should dread the hours of darkness.”

“Animals who live day and night with fear can pinpoint sound with exactitude, and fear can teach human beings to do the same. Sounds that are repeated – as, for instance, a langur barking at a leopard, or a cheetal barking at a suspicious movement, or a peafowl calling at a tiger – are not difficult to locate, nor do they indicate immediate danger calling for instant action. It is the sound that is only heard once, like the snapping of a twig, a low growl, or the single warning call of bird or of animal, that is difficult to locate, is of immediate danger, and calls for instant action.”

“Fear stimulates the senses of animals, keeps them ‘on their toes’, and adds zest to the joy of life; fear can do the same for human beings. Fear had taught me to move noiselessly, to climb trees, to pin-point sound; and now, in order to penetrate into the deepest recesses of the jungle and enjoy the best in nature, it was essential to learn how to use my eyes, and how to use my rifle.”

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