Kanha marks an intersection of wildlife
The natural and splendid sal and denser bamboo forests intermixed with Haldu and Bija trees on the hilly slopes, rich green grasslands, abundant flora and fauna with over 600 species of flowering plants, roundabout streams and variety of wild animals stretch over nearly a 1000 sq km is the Kanha National Park, which forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hard ground swamp deer (barasingha).
Created in 1955, Kanha is one of the finest and best administered National Parks not only in the country but also in the whole of Asia. Known for its striped beauty – the tiger, Kanha marks an intersection of wildlife and humankind.
The MP Ecotourism Board has been keen on wooing tourists by developing the reserve as a famous eco-tourist destination.
Two river valleys are the prominent features of the park’s topography-- Banjar and Halon in Mandla-Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh. These river valleys are the tributaries of the holy Narmada, which flows through Mandla, 64 km to the northwest of the park’s western entrance.
The park consists of a core area of 940 sq km, which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,005 sq km, thus comprising a total area of 1,945 sq km. The core area of the park and most of the buffer zone are located in two districts -- Mandla to the west and Balaghat to the east. In addition, a small section of the buffer zone in the southeastern sector is part of Rajnandgaon district. There are nearly 150 villages in the buffer zone and over 260 villages within a radius of 10 km.
Kanha National Park, part of Project Tiger, is located in Madhya Pradesh, India. The nearest airport and railhead is at Jabalpur (160 kms, 3 hours by road).
In the 1930s, Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km² each.
Kanha National Park, which is one of the most well known tiger reserves worldwide, is located among the Banjar and Halon valleys in the Mandla / Balaghat districts of the state of Madhya Pradesh.
It's creation took place among, and after, a lot of turbulence and storm within concerned circles regarding rampant killing of wildlife in the area at the time.
Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km² in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat. Together with a surrounding buffer zone of 1009 km² and the neighboring 110 km² Phen Sanctuary it forms the Kanha Tiger Reserve.
The lowland forest is a mixture of sal (shorea robusta) and other mixed forest trees, interspersed with meadows. The highland forests are tropical moist dry deciduous type and of a completely different nature with bamboo on slopes (dendrocalamus strictus). A very good looking Indian ghost tree (kullu) can also be seen in the dense.
Kanha Tiger Reserve abounds in meadows or maidans which are basically open grasslands that have sprung up in fields of abundant villages, evacuated to make way for the animals.
Kanha meadow is one such example. There are many species of grass recorded at Kanha some of which are important for the survival of Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli branderi).
Dense forested zones with good crown cover has abundant species of climbers, shrubs and herbs flourishing in the understory. Aquatic plants in numerous "tal" (lakes) are life line for migratory and wetland species of birds
Here is a large tiger population in the park. One can also find leopards, the sloth bear and Indian wild dog. Very rarely seen are the Indian wolf which live in the far east of the park. It comes out after dark which is not a visiting hour.
The most abundant prey species for the large predators is the spotted deer or chital, which number is estimated to about more then 20,000 in the park. The second largest population of deer is that of Sambar (Cervus Unicolor) which constitutes an important prey base of the tiger. Other commonly observed mammals include the common grey langur, wild boar, gaur, sambar and barasingha or swamp deer (this is the hardground swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli branderi), found only in Kanha, barely more than thousand now survive in the wild).
Barasingha were only 60 left in this planet when measures were taken to prevent extinction. An attempt to raise the black buck here has failed. The chousingha and the nilgai (blue bull), though rare, can also be found in Kanha.
The central Kanha valley was declared a sanctuary way back in 1933 but got it's status as a National Park in 1955. It covers a large area of 1,945 square kilometers, out of which 940 square kilometers form the main park. The altitude of the park ranges from 450 meters to 900 meters above sea level. The temperature, depending on the season, ranges from 0 degrees in the winters to 48 degrees in the summers.
Sometimes, as with most parks of the country, it can be closed earlier if the monsoon season arrives sooner than expected. The park has a heavy monsoon season with an average annual rainfall of 1600mm. The basic infrastructure at the park is well developed and visits can "mostly" be expected to pass without any problems.
Kanha is also famous for it's animal conservation efforts made in collaboration and cooperation with the local resident communities. One of the famous success stories of the park is the survival of the Barasingha population in the park. The population went down to as low as 66 animals in 1970 from the earlier 3000 and which through huge efforts have now revived to a respectable number of more then 1000.
Kanha boasts of many such success stories of which this is only an example.
Bamni Dadar known as Sunset Point, this is one of the most beautiful areas of the park, from where a spectacular sunset can be watched. The dense luxuriance of Kanha's forests can be seen from here. Animals that can be sighted around this point are typical of the mixed forest zone sambar, barking deer, gaur and four-horned antelopes.
Less commonly seen species are Tiger, Indian Hare, Dhole or Indian Wild Dog, Barking Deer, Indian Bison or Gaur. Patient watching should reward the visitor with s sight of; Indian Fox, Sloth Bear, Striped Hyena, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Mouse Deer, Chausingha or four-horned Antelope, Nilgai , Ratel and Porcupine.
Very rarely seen species are Wolf which lives in the far east of the park, Chinkara found outside the Park's northern boundary, Indian Pangolin, the smooth Indian Otter and the small Indian Civet.
Avian Species. Watchers should station themselves in the hills, where the mixed and bamboo forests harbour many species and in the grassy forest clearings.
Water birds can be seen near the park's many rivulets and a Sarvantal, a pool that is frequented by water birds and the area in from of the museum. The Sal forests do not normally yield a sight of Kanha's avifauna. Early morning and late afternoon are best for bird-watching; binoculars are an invaluable aid to the watcher.