is considered by some as the India’s greatest park, an excellent habitat for
many mammals and bird species. Kanha National Park was created in 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 abandoned baiga villages, removed to make way for
the animals a number of years ago.
There is a large tiger population in the park and 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.
most abundant prey species for the large predators is the spotted deer or chital,
then Sambar (Cervus Unicolor) which constitutes an important prey base of the tiger.
Other commonly observed mammals include the common grey langur, wild boar, gaur
(wild cow) sambar and barasingha or swamp deer (this is the hard ground swamp
deer (Cervus duvauceli branderi), found only in Kanha, barely 1200 survive in the
wild). The chousingha and the nilgai (blue bull), though rare, can also be found
Other larger mammal species of the park are rhesus macaque, golden jackal, bengal
fox, smooth-coated otter, honey badger, small indian civet, indian gray mongoose,
ruddy mongoose, striped hyena, jungle cat, leopard cat, indian spotted chevrotain,
indian pangolin, indian porcupine and indian hare The Indian jungle fowl, which
is the ancestor of domestic hens, is common.
are also 175 varieties of birds in Kanha National Park including Purple Heron (Ardea
purpurea) Paddy Bird or Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), Shikra (Accipiter badius),White-eyed
Buzzard (Butastur teesa).
Its impressive size, the size of its tourism zone and its inaccessibility, being
some distance from the nearest main cities means less pressure from tourism than
some other parks. Besides tiger, the impressive gaur, or ‘wild cattle’,
barasingha (swamp deer), sloth bear and leopard are seen, in a beautiful and diverse
IN THE FIELD UPDATE
Mar 2012 - Sightings appear to be reasonably good, though it is noticeable that many tigresses have young cubs at the moment and are staying hidden in Mukki, Kanha Meadows and Surhi ranges. New burning of the grasslands, with help from South African experts, has meant that the grasslands are in green now and large herds of Barasingha and spotted deer are being seen in the meadows. Sadly wild dog sightings are down from December.
The park’s greatest achievement has been the preservation of Hard Ground Swamp Deer (Barasingha), from near extinction (only 66 in 1970) today the number is more than 400. It is the only surviving population in the wild and are seen best in the new Surhi range. Recently, four sloth bears were killed by poachers in the buffer zone for their body parts. The authorities arrested three locals.
Try and avoid the crowds around the weekends and numerous Indian holiday periods. You may have a longer journey now to/from Kanha Meadows for viewing from the Mukki gate. Ourai, which was once a tribal village that has now been relocated, is a great spot to find herbivores such as the barasingha, sambhar, and gaur. The Babathenga tank attracts many species of birds and sometimes even a tiger. Also the authorities are not allowing TOFT-trained guides to be used outside of the strict rota system.. No new activities have become available this year.
Feb 2011 - Prey species like Barasingha and Sambhar deer remain
good, and Mukki is getting excellent sightings of Tigers too this year. 3 separate
females, all with nearly adult cubs is making for excellent ‘batch’
sightings. Wild dog sighting are down badly which is worrying. They were a real
joy to watch in Mukki - though peaks and troughs in these packs are not uncommon.
The continuing decline in herd sizes of chital ‘spotted deer’ is of
huge concern too, and most noticeable over the last decade or more. 18 Gaur ‘wild
cow’ got moved to Bandhavgarh but the remainder are still in good numbers,
and seen often.
Please note: You may have a long journey now to/from Kanha Meadows
for viewing from Mukki (and vica versa), so most lodges only doing it with longer
stay clients. Also the authorities are not allowing TOFT trained guides to be used
outside of the strict rota system, sadly discouraging higher quality guiding.
Dr Latika Nath, with TOFT funding, is coordinating an Eco charcoal project and a
Village Schools Environmental Project in the buffer zones of the park, which we
hope visitors can visit see next season.
Feb 2011 - This entrance in Kanha also seems to be having good
wildlife sightings, with a number of females tigresses with sub adult cubs accompanying
in and around the Kanha Meadows. Furthermore, a male and female leopard have been
spotted quite frequently. Barasingha are doing well but again the grassland management
seems to have disturbed the chital herd numbers and they are dispersing widely –
often in lodge areas at night! The Surhi range is a new and wonderful range –
without any tourism pressure – and good herds of Barasingha can be seen, some
beautiful Sal forests and lush meadow drives with noisy woodland bird species, raptors
and the occasional predator.