Majestic forest, winding tracks, a termite mound, bird song. Misty grasslands, a herd of deer, filtered hues and sunbeams. Bamboo groves, sacred trees, playful langurs, an alarm call... this is where the tiger roams.
Kanha Tiger Reserve is one of India's finest forest landscapes. It lies within a series of plateaus in the Maikal hills, east of the ancient Satpura range in central India. The area, 1945 sq km (one of India's largest), encompasses the Banjar and Halon river valleys, which were joined in 1972 to declare Kanha as one of the first nine reserves to be protected under 'Project Tiger'.
Kanha's inhabitants include four species of deer, including the rare 'hard-ground' barasingha, only found at Kanha; gaur, the world's largest wild cattle; handsome dhole, otherwise known as Indian wild dog; jackal; wild boar; three species of antelope; sloth bear; leopard and a healthy population of around 75 breeding tigers.
The variety of natural habitats play host to over 300 bird species, including: racket-tailed drongo, golden oriole, crested serpant eagle, peacock, scarlet minivet, bee-eaters, kingfishers, rufous treepie, brown fish owl, honey buzzard, wagtails, jungle fowl, whistling ducks, sandpiper, Asian paradise flycatcher...
Other spectacular creatures include swallowtail butterflies, Indian rock python, monitor lizard, giant wood spiders, rhinocerous beetles, keelback snakes, weaver ants, fan-throated agamas, flying squirrel...
History of the reserve...
Kanha's indigenous forest dwellers, the Gond and the Baiga, were shift cultivationists who practised 'slash and burn' techniques. They were some of the country's finest shikaris (hunters), and they collected forest produce such as berries, honey, mushrooms, roots and Mahua flowers.
In the 1800's, the area was preserved as a hunting estate. Elaborate shooting parties roamed the forest on elephant back, using the skill of the local shikaris. Finally the country's tiger population dropped to an alarming figure and hunting was banned.
In 1972, Project Tiger was established to revive the tiger population in nine prime locations across the country, including Kanha. It involved forming an inner core area - from which all villages were relocated, and an outer buffer zone, where agricultural life would take place, including cattle-grazing and the collection of forest produce and fallen wood. The meadows that we see inside the reserve today are the old village sites.
Park management includes maintaining water-bodies and natural grass species. Forest fires are controlled by firelines and watch-out towers. Patrolling takes place from out-posts, by foot and elephant back by dedicated staff. Tigers are monitored through camera traps, pugmark identification and some are radio-collared.
Poaching and forest encroachment remain the tiger's biggest threat globally, both of which affect Kanha but are largely under control.
Kanha receives thousands of visitors each year. It is one of the country's most popular tiger reserves, but also one of the best preserved and managed parks. Due to its remote location, Kanha attracts those who are serious about wildlife. Its large size means you can explore tracts where you feel that the forest is all yours. And, as with all parks today, the number of entry permits is restricted, so you rarely feel part of a crowd, even in the holiday season.
Kanha is open from 16th October to June 30th, closing for the monsoon.
20% of the reserve is accessible for tourism. Access is permitted, by jeep, twice a day; morning and afternoon, except on Wednesday afternoons, Diwali and Holi.
The reserve is divided into 4 tourist zones. You can visit one zone per safari. We have complete freedom in where we go within each zone. All zones have their own beauty and charm, and all have good opportunities for sightings.
Choice of zone depends on availability. BOOK 4 MONTHS IN ADVANCE FOR OPTIMUM EXPERIENCE!
Full day 'photographer' permits are also available at a premium. Contact us for more info.