Jim Corbett National Park-named after the hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment-is the oldest national park in India. The park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park acts as a protected area for the critically endangered Bengal tiger of India, the secure survival of which is the main objective of Project Tiger, an Indian wildlife protection initiative. The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance. Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically.
The Reserve area was named as 'Hailey National Park' in 1936. This was renamed in 1954-55 as 'Ramganga National Park' and again in 1955-56 as 'Corbett National Park'. It’s the oldest National Park of India. It was one of the nine Tiger Reserves created at the launch of the Project Tiger in 1973. The original area of the Park was 323.75 sq. km. to which 197.07 sq. km. was added later. The administrative control over the entire area is that of the Field Director of the Reserve.Now total area of Corbett National park is 1288.3 sq. km.
Corbett Tiger Reserve is spread over areas of Nainital, Almora, Pauri Garhwal and Bijnore Districts of Uttarakhand. The present area of the Reserveis 1318.54 sq. km. including 520.82 sq. km. of core area and 797.72 sq. km. of buffer area. The core area forms the Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests (496.54 sq. km.) as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 sq.km.). The core is bounded to the North by the Kanda Ridge, with a height of 1043 m at its highest point. The entire area of the reserve is mountainous and falls in the SivAlik and Outer Himalaya geological province. It forms the catchment area of the Ramganga, a tributary of the Ganga. The Ramganga flows from East to West in the reserve through landscapes of incredible beauty. The Ramganga was dammed at Kalagarh at the south-western end of the reserve in 1974. The reservoir created submerged 40 sq. km. of prime grassland. The area on the western side of the reservoir now constitutes the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Corbett National Park was the first national park of India and the Indian subcontinent, when it was established on 8 August 1936. It was then called Hailey National Park after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the then governor of the United Provinces. Major Jim Corbett was largely responsible for delineation of the park boundaries. After India attained independence in 1947 the park was renamed as Ramganga National Park. In 1957, it was renamed as Corbett National Park, in memory of Jim Corbett. Project Tiger, India's ambitious conservation program to save the tiger and its habitat was launched from Corbett in 1973. In 1991 the area of the reserve was enlarged to its present area, with a large buffer area coming under the direct control of the Field Director.