Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the best known national parks in India. Kanha was declared a sanctuary in 1935 and gained status as a national park in 1955. The area covered by Kanha NP includes a 940 square km core zone (the main park) and a 1005 square km buffer zone. The altitude of the park ranges from 450 meters to 900 meters above mean sea level. Although to witness the tiger is probably THE reason for most visitors to visit Kanha, other endangered species can also be seen in Kanha. The barasingha (swamp deer, Cervus duvaucelii), an endangered deer sub-species, righteously called the jewel of Kanha faced near extinction (barasingha numbers fell to 66 in 1970). Conservation efforts, including the enlargement of grassland habitat, have proven effective as a result of which the barasingha population increased to over 500 in 1986. Kanha reportedly had an estimated 114 tigers and 86 leopards in 1997.
The Project Tiger was launched in 1973 at a time when the tiger population in India had dwindled to less than 2000¹. Conservation efforts included the establishment of tiger reserves where tigers could habitate in a natural environment. Kanha was one of the nine tiger reserves established coinciding with the launch of this project. There are 27 Tiger Reserves located throughout India with a total area of 37,761 square kms. The state of Madhya Pradesh accounted for approximately one fourth of the tiger population of India (1997 estimate). According to these estimates, 226 tigers populated the five tiger reserves, 229 were found in Protected Areas outside the tiger reserves and 472 tigers in general forest areas ². More recent findings based on more reliable tiger counting methods put Madhya Pradesh's total tiger population at only 300.
An alarming and disturbing finding announced in Feb 2008 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority indicates that only 1411 tigers remain in the wild. As poaching of tigers and other continues unabashed and fragile ecosystems including forests free of human habitation continue to diminish the future of the Royal Bengal Tiger surviving in India does not look very promising without drastic measures to protect the tigers natural habitats from poaching and human and cattle infiltration in wildlife sanctuaries and adjoining buffer zones.
¹ The first ever tiger census was conducted in 1972
² Source: Tiger Conservation Initiatives (Madhya Pradesh Forest Department - 1997)
How to reach Kanha NP
Kanha is not near to any large town and can be cumbersome to reach. MPVs are available for hire at Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh), with good train connections from Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. The distance from Bilaspur to Mukki is over 200 kilometers. Regular bus connections are available from Jabalpur and Mandla to Kisli gate.
Where to stay
Accomodation is available in the form of Forest Rest Houses, govt run log huts and privately operated hotels and resorts.
Video clip: Gaur - Copyright Timir Mozumder
Video clip: Chital - Copyright Timir Mozumder
Books and DVDs on Kanha
You may order the following books and videos on Kanha via Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the images.