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About Kanha National Park

Kanha in Madhya Pradesh (five hours driving from Jabalpur, six from Nagpur) has sometimes been called the N'Gorongoro of India. The simile is apt, albeit Kanha is far greener and its cordon of hills far more densely wooded. Unlike Tanzania's N'Gorongoro, the Kanha valley is not a volcanic crater, though the enclosing hills are a consequence of geologically ancient volcanic activity. The horseshoe-shaped Kanha valley, which accounts for nearly a third and the oldest part of the Kanha National Park, is bound by two distant spurs emanating from the main Mekal ridge, forming its southern rim. The spurs, in their gently tapering traverse, nearly close in the north leaving but a narrow opening for the meandering Sulkum or Surpan river, the valley's main drainage. Herds of the Kanha miscellany, the axis deer (chital), the swamp deer (barasingha), the blackbuck (hiran), the wild pig and occasionally the gaur, throng the central parkland of the valley, providing the basis for the com計arison with N'Gorongoro. With its confiding herds and relatively tolerant predators, Kanha offers an almost unrivaled scope to a keen photographer of Indian wildlife.

The forests of the Banjar valley and the Halon valley, respectively forming Kanha's western and eastern halves, had, even at the turn of the century, been long famous for their deer and tiger. Expectedly, therefore, they were reserved as the exclusive hunting grounds for the most privileged, the British Viceroy, as early as 1910. The ups and downs in the ensuing decades gave an in負eresting conservation history to Kanha which celebrated its golden jubilee in 1983. It all started with an area of some 96 sq miles (250 sq km) in the Kanha valley being gazetted as a sanctuary in 1933. This was followed by 116 sq miles (300 sq km) of the Halon valley around Supkhar also being declared a sanctuary in 1935. However, because of extensive deer damage to tree saplings in the forests and crops in nearby villages, the Supkhar sanctuary was denitrified within a few years. Both these areas at that time still harbored teeming populations of the Central Indian barasingha (Carves duvauceli branderi). This majestic cousin of the nominate swamp deer (Carves duvau苞eli) of the sub-Himalayan flood- plains had adapted itself to the hard-ground grasslands and until the turn of the century dominated the Central Indian highlands.

The valleys with rich alluvium carry a mixed interspersion of stately, near pure, stands of sal and extensive meadows. It is this characteristic parkland appearance of the valleys that typifies the Kanha land貞cape. The large grassy clearings are a conequence of old, abandoned cultivation, although many have recently come up as a result of a massive village relocation opera負ion under Project Tiger. This important operation was undertaken with great success in order to meet the twin objective of preventing wild animal damage to the crops and cattle of the interior settlements in the park and to release wildlife habitat from human occupation and disturbance in this prime conservation area. Significantly, the operation was smooth and with full involve衫ent of the affected people who were provided adequate and viable alternatives in the form of agricultural land and new organized housing at sites of their choice outside the park. This has been hailed as a major management success of the Kanha National Park in conservation circles, the world over.

Kanha's Jewel:
The swamp deer or bara貞ingha is the jewel of Kanha and its rescue from the brink of extinction, the crowning glory of its conservation achievements. The enlargement of grassland habitat through village relocation has been the main basis of this breakthrough. Barasingha feed almost exclusively on grasses and tall grass mea苓ows are essential to the security of their fawns from minor and major predators from August - September, when they are dropped, to late November. By this time, the fawns are strong enough to keep pace with the herds and are well initiated into the art of security through herding. Cultivation of the valley grasslands had appropriated the bulk of the grassland habitat while excessive stock grazing did not allow grasses to grow tall enough in the remainder. In conse訂uence, the rate of success at raising young steadily declined and in Kanha valley itself the barasingha number fell from nearly 3000 in the early 19505 to just 66 in I 970.This was the last surviving population of this sub貞pecies in the world. Fortunately, as a result of measures taken, including village reloca負ion, their population continues to show a steady increase and in 1986 had crossed the 500 mark.

With its multilinked beams of antlers bent forward and adorned by crowns of grass tufts, the proud carriage of a dominant ba訃asingha stag, silhouetted in profile through mist against sunbeams breaking through stately sal trees on an early winter morning, can be an all-quenching feast to the eyes of a nature lover. Peak winter, December 胡anuary, is the barasingha's rutting season and large congregations are seen in the Kanha and Sonph meadows. It is difficult to paint a picture in words of the impressive display of the big breeding stags, the rivalry among them leading to serious fights amid clouds of kicked-up dust, the almost unconcerned females grazing away, the youngsters looking askance, the chase by the victor, the run for life by the vanquished and the finale in the form of the majestic re-entry of the victor into the herd after a thorough wallow in mud. All this, while stag bellows echo from all directions.

Blackbuck is not an animal of the moist deciduous forests of the hills or the sal forests of the valleys. Yet the central Kanha meadows carry a small number of black苑uck. It entered Kanha valley from the plains outside, probably with the extension of cultivation along the Sulkum river. Now that the cultivation is gone and the over茆razed short grass meadows are changing over to taller grasses, the black buck is facing adversity. Its numbers, near 80 in 1972, had dropped to under 10 in 1986. Jackals, nor衫ally scavengers but opportunistic preda負ors, have accentuated the jeopardy. When, following strict protection and intensive con貞ervation measures of the 1 970s, all wild animal populations showed a rapid increase, including the most populous chital, the jackal took to hunting the rich crop of chi tal fawns in the meadows by forming small packs. This opportunistic hunting was extended to black buck fawns in the central Kanha meadows from where, unlike chital, they had nowhere else to go. However, in a 69-acre (28-hectare) tiger-leopard-proof en苞losure - raised originally for the barasing虐a - just south of Kanha, their number during the same period has gone up from about five to well over 30.

Shravantal is an ancient, small earth苑und tank in the central Kanha meadows. This is an important watering source in the area. It even attracts a fair number of water- fowl in winter - mainly the lesser whitling teal, but also to be seen are some common teal, pintail, cotton teal and an occasional shoveler.

Sighting Animals: Kanha has a distinct monsoonal climate. Over 90 percent of its annual precipitation of 64 inches (160 cm) arrives between late June and late September. The park remains closed from July I to October 31, but an early downpour, wash虹ng away portions of fair weather roads may enforce an earlier closure (though seldom before June 20). November is mildly cold while December - January are the coldest and given to severe frost, late night temperatures in valleys dipping to 29蚌 (-2). February - March is pleasant spring time. April starts warming up while May - June is the hottest period. Permission showers in late June kill the heat and herald massive deer congregations in the maidans, which quickly shed their brown-yellow and don the rich green of the new flush of grasses. This coincides with the second peak of the chital rutting season. Their rut starts in late March and stretches well into July, the first peak being from mid-April to mid-May. The valleys reverberate with loud, sharp and long-drawn bugling of stags. The maidans are dotted with dominant stags displaying to and courting females and fighting rivals for them.

Vehicular excursions and elephant rides in the park are permitted only by daylight. The best time is in early mornings and late afternoons.

Kanha animals are confiding and a little care in approach can yield prolonged pleasure observing interesting animal behav虹or within a species and interaction among different species. As soon as a group of ani衫als is sighted the vehicle should slow down, and stop at a distance where the animals take note but do not run away. Soon they resettle, where after advances may be made gradually. With patience a vehicle can be positioned between groups of ani衫als on both sides of the road. Vehicles are not allowed to leave the road. Nor is walking allowed while on excursions.


Kanha's bird life is rich, the tally of species being close to 300. Mornings are full of rich bird calls. Peafowl, sometimes dancing peacocks during March to June, are seen all over. The Indian roller, racket-tailed drogue, red and yellow wattled lapwing, green bee-eater, different doves (5 species), gray horn bill, tree pie, myna, munia, bush chat, warbler, flycatcher, babbler and woodpecker are commonly seen. Blockheaded and golden oriole, paradise fly苞atcher, pied Malabar horn bill, Indian pitta, Indian stone curlew, common gray and painted partridge and green pigeon are often seen on drives and elephant rides. Black ibis, white-necked and lesser adjutant storks, white-breasted and pied kingfisher, different egrets and occasionally cormorants are seen around water bodies or streams near Kanha, Sonph, Kisli and Mukki. The main birds of prey, often seen swooping down on and catching or feeding on small mammals, snakes and birds, are the crested serpent eagle, crested honey buzzard, white苟yed buzzard, black winged kite, shikra, laggar and shaheen falcon, kestrel and a number of owls and owlets including the barn owl, brown fish owl and the night jar. Often whitebacked and scavenger vultures and occasionally black and long billed vultures can be seen scavenging on tiger, leopard and wild-dog kills. For bird watchers staying at Mukki, a trek along the Banjar river and for those at Kisli, going round the Kisli and Kanha campuses can prove highly rewarding. Penetrating into woodland on foot even around the campus is neither advisable nor permitted for reasons of safety.

Tiger Land:

The raw beauty of the Kanha wilderness is satisfying because a comparion of the condition of the forests outside with that of those inside is a strong pointer to "conservation in action" in the Park. Kanha's diverse miscellany of mammal and bird life is without many parallels, because so much is seen so well in so short a time. Yet Kanha is better known as the best place in the world to see tigers.

Sighting tigers on drives here is not uncommon, but seeing and photographing tigers from elephant back, sometimes after a thrilling systematic track, is a memorable experience. Elephants usually go out very early in the morning for tiger tracking from Kisli, Kanha or Mukki. An elephant accommodates up to 4 persons besides the mahout - the elephant driver and the friend, philosopher and guide of the visitor. Starting the track, he would readily say in Hindi, "Eyes, ears and nose open and mouth shut." This is sound advice and should be heeded in the interest of success in tracking.

With all their senses on the alert, the mahout and his elephant take the visitors to a flattish nu//ah bed or to a grassy glade amid stately sal trees. Pug marks, drag of a kill, the various vocalizations of the pre苓ator, the crowing and shuttling of the crows, the alarm calls of the langur and deer are signs that could lead to a rendezvous with the secretive tiger. The evaluation of these signs enables the mahout to decide the right course. Usually two to four elephants move together up to this stage and then, after a short conference among the mahouts, each takes an agreed given direction ther down or up a nullah bank or rustling through the forest, where at the level of the howda (seating platform on the elephant's back), the branches of trees and bamboo culms tend to come together. In an air charged with expectation the mahout will signal the riders to help bend or push the branches away to clear the passage at their level. A mouse deer might dart through the elephant's legs and the mahout would curse under his breath. His senses keyed to the observation and silent analysis of the signs, at times he might attempt an explanation by gestures


 The urgency of the moment commanding, he might, however, move on without waiting to ascertain whether he was understood. A mile or two having thus been covered, the visitors would by then have got into the knack of rocking their body in unison with the elephant's, for maximum comfort. Then, with birds merrily chirping away, the mahout will suddenly stop in his tracks and peer through the canopy of bamoo, ban-rahar (Flamingia sop) or sindur (MallolLls Philippines's) bushes lower down. He will adjust the elephant's position for a better view and point out what he had seen - the remains of a kill or the unmistakable stripes. Having made sure of a predator's presence in the area, he will avoid disturbing it by keeping elephant movements to the minimum. He will whistle a signal to the other elephants who, if around, will carefully approach the area. While awaiting their arrival the mahout will nudge his elephant now and then. Too much movement might scare away the tiger and total lack of it might allow him to slip away.


The strategy is to take advantage of the cat's urge to laze as the day advances. With the arrival of the other elephants, the game of outflanking the tiger, hide and seek, begins and finally the tiger gets reconciled to the elephants' presence - a bit of a nuisance, but harmless. Sometimes a tiger is sighted within two or three hours, and at others in less than an hour. On some clays tigers arc sighted al more than one area, on some at none, but, the game of tracking is thrilling and affords a real feel of the dynamic wilderness, something happening or expected to happen all the time. Many a time a leopard is seen, though unlike the tiger, not for a prolonged view. Other rare sightings may include a monitor lizard, or a porcupine or a python. Of course a host of birds and often gaur, sambar and muntjac are seen too. Once the tiger settles down, it can be viewed for several hours..


Kanha National Park is located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
By road : There are regular bus services from Jabalpur to Kanha. .
Khatia (3 kms from Kisli) and Mukki are the main entry points to Kanha National Park. From Jabalpur, Kisli is 165 kms via Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 203 km via Motinala and Garhi. For travelers from Bilaspur (182 km), Raipur (213 km) and Balaghat (83 km), Mukki is more convenient. From Nagpur, Kisli is 259 km vis Nainpur and Chiraidongri, and Mukki is 289 km via Balaghat.

By air : The nearest major airport to Kanha National Park is Nagpur (280 Km).

By rail : Jabalpur is the nearest railway station to Kanha National Park.



Jeep Safari Timing -  Kanha National Park

15th October to 30th June. Rest of the Time Park is closed for the Visitors


MORNING - 06 : 30 to 10 : 30 AM
EVENING - 01 : 30 to 5 : 30 PM

SUMMER (Feb to June)

MORNING - 06 : 00 to 10 :00 AM,
EVENING - 02 : 30 to 06 : 30 PM

Best Season to Visit Kanha National Park:
February to June although cool season (October to February) is much more comfortable and still very good for wildlife. The park is closed from July 01 to October 01 because of the monsoon.


Safari Facilities - Kanha National National Park.


Park Safari by Jeep (Open)
Knowledgeable English Speaking Naturalist
Visit to Villages to experience local culture
Transfer facilities to and from Railway Station and Hotel
Transport Arrangements to any part of India by Ac / Non Ac Car / Coach.
Accommodation Arrange at Hotel of your choice.