Kanha National Park
The Kanha Tiger Reserve is prime tigerland , the epitome of Kipling country with sal forests of sunlight and shadows, a myriad streams, rolling meadows and all the wildlife imaginable. Home to one of the world’s most endangered deer - the hardground barasingha - this amazing National Park helped pioneer the advent of scientifi c conservation management in India. It is justifi ably held out as one of Project Tiger’s star success stories. Virtually everyone who visits Kanha comes away moved by its magnifi cent diversity. Most visitors return.
History And Culture
Kanha lies to the east of the Central Indian highlands (that stretch east-west across Madhya Pradesh) in the Maikal hills of the ancient Satpura mountain range. Its fl at-topped hills (500-1,000 m) support grassy meadows,or maidans. Well-watered valleys, rich with forests, ascend in steps from Westto East. The river Sulkum, a tributary of the Banjar, flows through Kanha and is its principal source of water. The area teems with diverse wild animals typical of Indus-Ganges monsoon forests. The Banjar and Halon Valley forests form the western and eastern halves of Kanha.
There is every chance of seeing a tiger on early morning elephant rides, or from vehicles both in the morning or evening. Barasingha deer, star attraction of Kanha, often adorn their antlers with tufts of grass in the rutting season. They are not exactly easy to see, but sightings are possible. Once restricted to the Kanha meadows the deer can now be seen in other meadows as well.
Chital deer can be seen in herds numbering hundreds. Wildboar, preyed upon by leopards and tigers, are common almost everywhere. Four-horned antelope or chausingha, blackbuck and nilgai can also be seen, but less frequently. The Hanuman langur and palm squirrels are ubiquitous. Some animals are difficult to sight. These include the hyena, blackbuck, chevrotain (mouse deer, only 300 cm. tall!), porcupines, sambar and barking deer (or muntjac), (found in small numbers). Pythons and cobras, though common, are diffi cult to spot.
Vegetation / Flora
Tiger trackers locate elephants and the park authorities offer to take tourists to the spot when one is sighted. But in recent years this practice has come in for considerable criticism from conservationists and animal rights activists who rightly point to the cruelty and danger to the tiger, which is often kept away from water or food sources for hours by a phalanx of elephants. The tiger tends to stay quiet to conserve its energy during the day. But it patrols its territory at dawn and dusk, which is when you stand the best chance to spot it from a vehicle.
Gaur, the world’s largest ox, prefer to keep to hilly tracts watered by perennial springs. In the evenings they normally come out to graze in nearby meadows. Mukki, is probably the best area for gaur. Sambar, chausingha and nilgai also frequent the areas and sloth bear too. Birds like the Marsh Harrier are also found at these elevations. For a breathtaking view of the Kanha expanse and the Banjar Valley, a late afternoon drive out to Bahmnidadar (850 m.) makes for an unforgettable outing. The drive takes you through rich forests of haldu and dhaora, festooned by climbers and framed with clumps of giant bamboo. Leopards are frequently spotted on this track, as are barking deer, sambar and jungle fowl.