Nepali Times
Jim Edwards, 75

Jim Edwards, who died recently in Kathmandu, was one of the pioneers of tourism in Nepal, along with his friends Boris Lissanevitch and Col Jimmy Roberts. A far-sighted man, gifted with luck and charisma, Jim had the vision to see the future for conservation-based wildlife tourism in the Himlayan mountains and jungles that he loved, long before the concept of 'ecotourism' came into being.

Dreaming of seeing more of the world, and always the adventurer, Jim drove overland on a Saab car promotion to Nepal in May 1962. Enraptured by the splendours of the country, he decided this was where he wanted to live. Travelling further afield was put on hold and he spent a year exploring Chitwan and the Tarai.

In 1964, Jim teamed up with American anthropologist turned wildlife ecologist, Charles (Chuck) McDougal and started the first wildlife tourism company, Nepal Wildlife Adventure, to operate jungle treks, fishing and hunting expeditions. It was the beginning of a long and distinguished career in the travel industry.

On a tip-off from Boris Lissanevitch, Nepal's pioneer hotelier, Jim heard of Tiger Tops a small camp in the Chitwan rhino reserve that was in need of improved management. Jim and Chuck took over the Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in 1971, turning it into a famous conservation tourism model.

TRIO: Swiss geologist Toni Hagen, Jim Edwards and Ed Hillary in 2001 in Kathmandu.
Jim teamed up with Jimmy Roberts, the pioneer of Himalayan trekking who had started Mountain Travel, the first trekking company in the world. Thus, Tiger Mountain was formed, which is very much Jim's group of adventure travel companies throughout Nepal and India.

Seeing the effective manner in which tourism, when carefully and sensitively managed, could be a positive force for conservation, Jim, and his colleagues formed the International Trust for Nature Conservation, a UK registered charity with a mandate to support conservation initiatives around the world.

Jim is widely recognised for his immense contribution to Nepal's tourism industry, setting standards of adventure tourism that are admired all over Asia. It was a matter of great pride to Jim that Indira Gandhi once berated her bureaucracy with: "Why do we have to look to Nepal to learn how to manage wildlife tourism lodges?"

Jim founded the World Elephant Polo Association in 1981 with James Manclark and ran the annual World Championships at Meghauli, a tribute to his sense of humour, marketing acumen, and enjoyment of a fine party. Elephant polo attracted many celebrities to Nepal and raised funds for many charities.

A man of immense charm and love of life, Jim could bowl people over with his inspirational energy, hospitality, self-deprecating sense of humour and monumental generosity. A paradoxical man, Jim challenged and inspired all those with whom he came in contact. He enriched the lives of many from all over the world and provided support for many Nepalis at home and abroad as part of his lifelong love and commitment to Nepal and her people.

Marcus Cotton and Lisa Choegyal

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)