Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the finest and richest (in flora and fauna) National Parks in India. Located in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha National Park is known for its exceptional natural beauty and unique and diverse flora and fauna. The immense natural beauty of Kanha even inspired the famous author Rudyard Kipling to write his all-time classic Jungle Book. Beautifully surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped valley and the spurs of the Mekal ridge, the park covers an area of approximately 1,945 sq km, comprising highly undulating topography with elevations ranging between 450 to 900 meters above sea level. The Surpan River, which meanders through the central part of Kanha, is the lifeline of the park and provides a permanent source of water for the rich and varied flora and fauna of the sanctuary.
One of the most preferred hunting grounds for erstwhile rulers and viceroys, Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary was first given limited protection in 1933 when about 250 sq km of the forested Kanha valley was declared a protected area, in order to conserve the diminishing flora and fauna of the park. After some unpleasant incidents in the early 1950s, when around 30 tigers were hunted down by a celebrity cricketer, the area was declared a National Park in 1955 under special legislation. The size of Kanha National Park was increased to 318sq km in 1962, and again to 446sq km in 1970. Later in 1976, Kanha National Park got the status of a Tiger Reserve under the famous Project Tiger, giving the Park its present area of 940sq km which is surrounded by an additional buffer area of 1,005 sq km, making the total area of the park to 1,945 sq km. Since the park became a Tiger Reserve, the population of tigers and other endangered species has increased significantly. According to recent surveys, the tiger population in the Kanha Tiger Reserve stands around 70-75, promising better opportunities for sighting tigers in their own habitat. Kanha National Park is also famous for endangered Barasinghas (Swamp Dear), which were on the verge of extinction but thanks to careful conservation and management by the park authorities, their number now stands over 400.
The varied topography and moderate climate support the growth of a diverse flora in Kanha National Park. About 70 species of trees are found in Kanha. The vegetation in the park chiefly comprises Sal forests, large Bamboo stretches, and the lush green meadows. The rich flora in the park supports a large variety of wildlife in Kanha National Park. According to surveys, Kanha is home to 22 species of large mammals and over 300 species of birds. The major wildlife attractions in Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary are Tigers, Leopards, Dholes (Indian wild dog), Indian Bisons, Sambar, Chital, Barasingha, Barking Deer, Black Buck, Chausingha, Nilgelephant-safariai, Monkeys, Mongoose, Mouse Deer, Sloth Bear, Jackal, Porcupine, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Hare, Rock Pythons among many others. The most commonly noticed birds in the park are Peafowls, Storks, Pond Herons, Egrets, Peacocks, Partridges, spotted Parakeets, Green Pigeons, Cuckoos, Drongos, Warblers, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, and flycatchers.
An enjoyable and exciting Elephant Safari is another major attraction in Kanha National Park. Exploring the natural beauty and wildlife of Kanha from the top of an elephant’s back would surely be a unique and rewarding experience for wildlife enthusiasts. Tourists can also visit the Kanha Museum, which is dedicated to the tribal culture of Madhya Pradesh, depicting the attributes and activities of the park. Kanha also is a photographer’s paradise, offering unlimited possibilities for capturing wildlife on your camera.