Kanha's sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands and meandering streams stretch over 940 sq km in dramatic natural splendour which form the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hardground Barasingha (Cervus Duvaceli Branderi).
By a special statute in 1955, Kanha National Park came into being. Since then, a series of stringent conservation programmes for the protection of the park's flora and fauna has given Kanha its deserved reputation for being one of the finest and best administered National Parks in Asia, an irresistible attraction for all wildlife lovers and a true haven for its animal and avian population.
In the 1930s, the Kanha area was divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 sq km each. Though one of these was subsequently disbanded, the area remained protected until 1947. Depletion of the tiger population in the years that followed led to the area being made an absolute sanctuary in 1952.
Forest Department guides accompany visitors around the park on mapped-out circuits which enable viewers to see a good cross-section of Kanha's wildlife. The best areas are the meadows around Kanha, where blackbuck, chital and barasingha can be seen throughout the day.
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 antelope.
Wildlife (Mammalian Species)
Kanha has some 22 species of mammals. Those most easily spotted are the Striped Palm Squirrel, Common Langur, Jackal, Wild Pig, Chital or Spotted Deer, Barasingha or Swamp Deer, Sambar and Black Buck.
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 a 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.
Kanha also has some 200 species of birds. 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 at Sarvantal, a pool that is frequented by water birds and the area in front of the museum. The Sal forests do not normally yield a sight of Kanha's avifauna. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for birdwatching; binoculars are an invaluable aid to the watcher.
Commonly seen species include:
Cattle Egret, Pond Heron, Black Ibis, Common Peafowl, Crested Serpent, Racket-Tailed Drongo, Hawk Eagle, Woodpecker, Pigeon, Dove, Parakeet, Babbler and Mynah, Indian Roller, White-Breasted Kingfisher and Gray Hornbill.
JEEP AND ELEPHANT HIRE
MPSTDC jeeps are available on hire for touring the park. Elephants are used for tiger tracking and should a tiger be located, the elephant can take the visitors to the site.
For jeep hire, see the MPSTDC Manager, at the Baghira Log Huts, Kisli and Kanha Safari Lodge, Mukki. Bookings for a morning run should be made the previous day. Please bear in mind that jeeps are not always available during peak visiting periods.
Kisli has a restaurant and a canteen. The restaurant serves both Indian and Western food. The canteen is cheaper, serving reasonably-priced meals and snacks. The Kanha Safari Lodge at Mukki is served by a multicuisine restaurant. If boiled water is required, please ask for it specially (water served at the Lodge is generally filtered.) Cold drinks and beer are usually available.
There is no facility for encashing Travellers' cheques at Kisli or Mukki- the nearest bank dealing in foreign exchange is the State Bank at Mandla.
Khatia (3 km from Kisli) and Mukki are the main entry points to the Kanha National park. From Jabalpur, Kisli is 165 km via Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 203 km via Motinala and Garhi. For travellers from Bilaspur (182km), Raipur (213km) and Balaghat (83km), Mukki on State Highway No. 26 is more convenient. From Nagpur, Kisli is 259 km via Nainpur and Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 289 km via Balaghat.