Know your park
Untill 1931, Kanha area was an ordinary shooting block. Kanha National Park was created on June 1st 1955 and Kanha Tiger Reserve was created in 1973. This came into being in 1974 under Project Tiger. Today it stretches over an area of 940 sq kms in two districts Mandla and Balaghat of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha has contributed immensely in saving many endangered wildlife species, which nearly bordered extinction.
The Park’s landmark conservation effort is the reintroduction of the rare hard ground swamp deer-Barasingha, saving it from near extinction.
The relocation of Indian bison – gaur to Bandhavgarh and some barasingha to Satpura National Park has been successfully executed by park authorities. Largest National Park in Central India – Kanha actually inspired Rudyard Kipling to conceive his famous novel “The Jungle Book”.
Youthful Banjar its curvaceous adolescent playmate Sulkam and a host of turbulent tributaries meaning amidst, the rolling Maikal hills clad in green extravaganza, provide to Kanha a breathtaking natural setting. Kanha National park is acclaimed by naturalists the world over as one of the best wildlife reserves in Asia.
There are three gates for entrance into the park. The Kisli gate is best accessed from Jabalpur and stops at the village Khatia, inside the buffer area. The second gate is at Mukki and the third, most recently opened, gate is at Sarhi.
Kanha National Park is home to over 1000 species of flowering plants. The lowland forest is a mixture of Saal-shorea robusta and other mixed forest trees interspersed with meadows. A very good looking Indian ghost tree – davidia involucrata can also be seen in the dense forest. Kanha National Park abounds in meadows which are basically open grassland that have sprung up in fields of abundant villages, evacuated to make way for the animals. Kanha meadows are one such example. There are many species of grass recorded at Kanha, some of which are important for the survival of barasingha – cervus duvauceli branderi. Dense forested zones with good crown cover has abundant species of climbers, shrubs and herbs flourishing the under story. Aquatic floras in numerous lakes are lifeline for migratory and wet land species of birds.
Kanha National Park has species of tigers, leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, foxes and jackals. Among the deer species, swamp deer or hard ground barasingha is the pride of the place as it is the only sub species of the swamp deer in India. The animal is adapted to hard ground unlike swamp deer of north India which lives in marshy swamps. The other commonly seen animals in the park include Indian bison – gaur, spotted deer, sambar, barking deer and four horned deer – chausingha. Recently mouse deer have also been reported on bamni dadar climb.
Black buck have inexplicably become very rare. They vanished completely but have been reintroduced inside a fenced area in the park near centre point. Neel gaai can be seen near sarahi gate while the Indian grey wolf rarely can be seen at mocha. Hyena and sloth bear are seen occasionally. Langoors and wild boars are common sighting but rhesus macaque is seen less often. Nocturnal animals like fox, hyena, jungle cat, civet, porcupine, rattle or honey badger and hares can be seen outside the park boundaries. Reptiles like python, cobras, crates, rat snakes, viper, keel backs and grass snakes are nocturnal in nature therefore rarely seen. There are many species of turtles as well as other amphibians found in or near the water bodies.
Jabalpur is major railway stations with train connectivity across India. From Jabalpur, the best way to travel is via Mandla, which has a tourist taxi service to the park, and Nainpur – perhaps with an overnight stop.