Kanha National Park is one of India’s largest parks and one of the first nine tiger reserves established with the initial launch of Project Tiger in 1973, aimed at protecting tigers and their ecosystems. It is internationally renowned for its anthropological and natural attributes. It falls within the Balaghat and Mandla districts of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The National Park lies within the Maikal hills, situated between the Mahadeo hills of Pachmari and Chota Nagpur in Banjar and Halon valleys.
Kanha National Park consists of two zones namely the core zone which plays a role in the protection of natural and landscape heritage; it is in this zone that National Park regulations and associated procedures are applied and buffer zone which is the demarcated zone around the Core Area that is called Multiple use area. The area of core zone or main national park is 940 km2 while the buffer zone consist 1009 km2 area. There is one Phen Wildlife Sanctuary also presences in the buffer zone of Kanha National Park having area 110 km2.
Elevations with the Kanha National Park range from 600 meters (m) to 900 m above mean sea level.
History of establishment
Forest area of present Kanha National Park was first declared as a reserve forest in 1879. The Banjar and Halon valleys served as exclusive hunting grounds for the British in India. According to the History of Kanha, these regions were home to a large population of the swamp deer or hard-ground Barasingha. In 1931, the forests came to be closed for hunting owing to the over-hunting of the barasingha, which resulted in a sharp decline in their populace. Kanha valley attained the status of a sanctuary in 1933, encompassing an area of about 250 km2. In 1935 the adjacent Halon valley around Supkhar, which had an area of 300 km2, gained the status of a sanctuary and came to be attached to Kanha. But later, the Suphkar sanctuary was de-notified, with the Banjar valley alone remaining a sanctuary. Kanha National Park was originally up gradation of Banjar valley sanctuary. The History of Kanha Tiger Reserve also mentions that in 1955 the Banjar valley attained the status of a National Park, and the park came to be called Kanha National Park. During the initial phase, the park comprised an area of 253 km2.
In 1962 Kanha National park was expanded to 318 km2, and in 1970 Mukki Valley was added, resulting in the park’s total area being increased to 446 km2.There were two wildlife sanctuaries before 1953- Hallon and Banjar. Hallon and Banjar were two river valleys on Maikal ranges of Satpura hills of Central India. Kanha National Park has a history of phased relocation of villages outside the core zone of the national park. Since 1960, as many as 27 villages have been relocated successfully. The History of Kanha also has it that when the Project Tiger was initially launched in 1973, nine Tiger Reserves became enlisted under it, with Kanha National Park being one of them. Under Project Tiger, the Halon valley came to be integrated into the park, with the result that the total area of Kanha National Park went up to its present area of 940 sq. km2. Phen Wildlife Sanctuary became part of Kanha National Park in 1983. It was a part of Motinala range, under the erstwhile South Mandla Territorial division (East Mandla Division). Realizing the wildlife potential of this area, it was declared wildlife Sanctuary in 1983 and was placed under unified control of Kanha Tiger Reserve.
The buffer zone of Kanha National Park was constituted in 1995. It is a separate division under the unified control of Kanha National Park Management. Tribes in Kanha National Park Kanha was originally formed a part of the Gondwana which means “Land of Gonds”, given that the forests here were inhibited by two aboriginal tribes of Central India, the Gonds and the Baigas. These tribes practiced shifting cultivation and subsisted on forest produce. Even today if we travel surrounding villages of Kanha National Parks, we may conclude that majority of villagers are from same tribes Hindu Myth Legend holds that Raja Dasrath of Ayodhya shot an arrow while hunting deer and accidentally killed a young man called Shravan, who was out collecting water from lake of Kanha for his aged ,blind parents. The good king had mistaken him for a deer drinking at the lake. When the king sorrowfully carried Shravan's body to his parents they both died instantly of shock and grief. According to the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, much of what followed in the King's life was governed by the death of Shravan, for which he and his family paid a heavy personal price. At present there is Sharvan lake existing in Kanha National Park.
The climate of this region is tropical. Summers are hot and humid with a maximum and minimum temperature of 40.6°C and 23.9°C. Winters are pleasant with an average maximum and minimum temperature of 23.9°C and 11.1°C, respectively. The annual average rainfall is 152 cm. The flora in Kanha National Park chiefly comprises of Southern tropical Moist Mixed Deciduous Forest and Southern Tropical dry Deciduous Mixed Forest types.
About 600 species of flowering plants are available in Kanha National Park .Extensive Sal forests, large Bamboo stretches and rolling grasslands meadows are main floral features of the Park. Major trees found in Kanha National Park include the Sal (Shorea robusta), Saja (Terminalia tomentosa), Dhaora (Anogeissus latifolia), Tendu, Arjun (Terminalia arjuna), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Palas (Butea monosperma), Salai (Boswellia serrata), Mango (Mangifera indica), Jamun (Syzygium Cumini) and Bamboo among many others. In addition, Lagerstroemia, Boswelia, Pterocarpus and Madhuca enhance the floral richness of Kanha National Park.
The rich habitat diversity of Kanha National Park supports abundant animal communities (viz. mammals, birds, reptiles and lower lifeforms). Chief wildlife fauna in the park include Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard ( Panthera pardus), Gaur (Bos gaurus), Sambhar (Cervus unicolor), Chital (Axix axis), Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli branderi), Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis) , Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Wild dog (Cuon alpines), Jackal (Canis aureus), Langur (Presbytis entellus), Bengal Fox (Vulpes bengalensis), Porcupine (Hystrix indica), Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and Jungle cat (Felis chaus). The bird species in the park include Storks, Teals, Pintails, Pond herons, Egrets, Pea fowl, Jungle fowl, Spur fowl, Partridges, Quails, Ring doves, Parakeets, Green pigeons, Rock pigeons, Cuckoos, Rollers, Bee-eater, Hoopoes, Drongos, Warblers, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, Finches, Orioles, Owls, and Fly catchers
Reptilian species in the park are Black turtle, North Indian Falp shell Turtle, Indian Soft-shell Turtle, Geckos, Lizards, Skinks, Monitor Lizard, Blind Snake, Indian Python, Vine Snake, Keelbacks, Banded Racers, Bronze back, Trinket Snakes, Wolf Snakes, Rate Snake, Common Indian Krait, Spectaled Cobra, Black Cobra, Saw Scaled viper, Green Bamboo Pit viper, Russel’s viper.
However, if one animal species were to represent Kanha, it would be the iconic Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli branderi), or the swamp deer. The Barasinghas at Kanha are unique, being the hard ground variety, which populate large open tracts of grass amidst the forests of teak and bamboo. Twenty years ago, the Barasingha was faced with extinction but some desperate measures including the fencing-off of some animals helped save them, and again the air in Kanha bugle with their rutting calls. The open meadows during the cold winter months are usually teeming with barasinghas and there is plenty of tiger activity around the fringes.
Kanha National Park is closed to visitors during the monsoon months, from July to November. Winter, between November and January, is a comfortable time to visit the park, when the weather’s pleasant. April to June is when the summer sets in; it can quite hot at this time of year, but for die-hard wildlife fans, this is when a visit can reward you with exceptional wildlife-watching at the park’s waterholes.
- Chandra, K., Sharma, R.C., Nagpure, A., Nema , D.K., 2008. Reptiles of Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, Record of Zoological Survey India 108 part -4, 49-83.
- Gopal, R., Shukla, R., 2000, Management Plan for Kanha Tiger Reserve.
- History of Kanha National Park
- Information About Kanha National Park
- Flora in Kanha National Park