Kanha, Madhya Pradesh

The Kanha meadows are what strike you most, soft golden grasslands, ringed by the indigenous emerald Sal forests, and grazed by small herds of pretty spotted deer, unconcerned about your appearance in their tranquil natural world. In the background, low sunkissed and flat topped hills paint the picturesque background. Here and there plump mango or proudly crowned mahua trees dot the meadows, providing both shade and nourishment to the langur monkeys and their deer friends, but also giving us a hint of these meadows past history. They were once swathes of agricultural fields of the Baiga tribesmen, who lived, farmed and hunted these rich ranges for centuries.

Once a favourite hunting ground of the British Raj, its old resthouses bare testament to their regular stays and slaughter, yet even in the early part of the 20th century writers were praising the sheer numbers of animals in these unprotected forests, comparing them favourably to anything in Africa, ‘I have seen 1500 head consisting of 11 species in an evening stroll’ wrote one Dunbar Brander.

Here you can find one of the most endangered deer in India, the hardground Barasingha, bugling his mating call, with lumps of grass in his kingly antlers. You can watch packs of wild dogs or dholes trotting the meadows in search of lunch, listen to the myriad of forest birds flitting in the dark sal trees, or watch stately wild gaur grazing at the jungle edges.

Size: 2059 km²
Tiger population: 60
Tiger status: Good tiger density

Kanha has always been one of India top reserves for tiger densities, with over 8 tigers per 100 sq kms in its core areas, with a total of 60 recorded in the 2010 census.

Made up of a number of distinct forest ranges that are are based on the plateau characteristics of the Satpura Maikal ranges, the park’s core areas forming a distinct inverted tick shape from Kisli and Surhi at the top to Subkhar at the bottom, a visitor will find himself able to enjoy a sweep of central India moist deciduous forests and its cornucopia of wildlife, both large and small, and flora, that would have once stretched across the whole of the central Indian plateau.

Kanha is predominently a sal forest belt (Shorea Robusta), an evergreen hardwood, buts its mixed with other well known varieties including the palash, or flame of the forest, achar, saja, or crocodile bark, and tendu trees, together with trees once invaluable to tribal communities amongst the meadows including the mahua, used for alcohol and the mango tree. Light barked arjuna trees hug the rivers and streams beds. 

Water is plentiful in perennial streams that often drain into the two key rivers of Banjar and Halon, but many dams, tanks, man made waterholes and anicuts also store water in the dry seasons for thirsty wildlife.


The mosaic of rich forests, hill plateaus, valley, and meadows of Kanha have always been a paradise for wildlife, supporting large herds of herbivores and a multitude of carnivores, large and small that depend on them.

Spotted deer are the most numerous species in the park, best seen in the Kanha and Mukki meadows, and after the monsoons in large herds grassing on fresh grasses, before splitting into smaller herds and the dry continues. The larger more noble sambar are numerous too often buried in the woods and bamboo cover, while their similar cousins, the hardground barasingha prefer the openlands and the many dams and perennial rivers that flow through the park. Barking deer and mouse deer hide in the deep forests. Three antelope also live here, the black buck on the grassy plateaus, nilgai on the fringes and the four horned live in deep jungle.

Herds of powerful gaur, the jet blacks of the males and the deep browns of these wild cows are an inspiring sight, and a tasty but dangerous meal for their big cat adversaries. Together with good leopard populations, is a feast of tigers living in most areas of the park, together with other cats including the jungle cat, leopard cat and other carnivores like parks of wild dog, Indian civets, numerous  jackals and nocturnal hyena.

Birdlife is excellent here too, with vulture numbers returning from near extinction only a few years ago, a plethora of woodland birds including paradise flycatchers, numerous owls, peacocks, yellow footed green pigeons and the haunting cry of the crested serpent eagle, together with wetland and duck species in the numerous dams and waterways.

Look out for the large Indian monitor lizard, chameleons, and many snakes after the start of the rains.

Kanha's past is little recorded till the advent of the British Raj, but it was always part of the Gondwana tract of landscape inhabited by the hunters and shifting cultivators of the Gond and Baiga tribes. By 1860, with tigers still regarded as vermin, and shot on sight, this part of the Central Provinces was brought under the  new Forest Act, as a few conservators began to see the rapid demise of forests from wholesale logging of its Sal trees for timber for the railways. By 1865 The Banjar valley was declared a reserve forest but shooting blocks remained. By the 1930’s hunting was beginning to be curtailed in some forests but was reversed again in the 1940’s because of the sheer number of prey devastating locals crops.

It was here that the first comprehensive study in field biology was undertaken by the famous biologist, Dr George Schaller  in the 1960’s. He hardly saw a tiger in years of backbreaking study, but today’s visitors can expect to be somewhat luckier, as Kanha remains a large and key tiger population, that can and must ensure the long term future of the species in central India.

By the launch of Project Tiger, Kanha National park, an initial Tiger reserve,  was by then 500 square kilometres in size, grew further to 940 sq kms, and with buffer zones its effective boundaries doubled by the 1980’s. Mandla to its west became its park headquarters.

Kanha gets its name from the Clayey soil in the flat valleys locally called ‘Kanhar’.

  • Entering the park via Mukki gate through a forest of tall sal trees

  • Wide golden meadows on Kanha, Kisli, Surhi and Mukki where herds of spotted deer graze

  • Good chance to see wild dogs at play and on the hunt

  • The bugling call of the endangered barasingha deer in rutting season, grass tufts stuck in his antlers

  • Waterbirds, storks and colourful kingfishers besides the waterholes and stream beds

  • The whistle of the Crested serpent eagle

  • Colourful and fascinating Gond and Baiga tribal villages and agricultural activities around the park boundaries.

  • A sundowner walk along a riverbed in the buffer forests


Photo-icon Photos: 188
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02 Jan 2018 Photo was added over 1 year ago


This photo was taken on 29th of December and Its a male subadult of T-33

Mini_user_default Uploaded by NARAYANA  

08 Oct 2017 Photo was added over 1 year ago


Budbudi Female T 83

Mini_user_default Uploaded by shripad212  

she is getting attention

Tiger72705 | over 1 year ago

08 Oct 2017 Photo was added over 1 year ago


Bhamangaon Male T67

Mini_user_default Uploaded by shripad212  

heard Munna is somewhere near the villages surrounding the national park

AMRITANSHGUPTA | 12 months ago

Munna is a veteran, but I understand he is in his late 10s

tygerman | over 1 year ago

As per the 'Tiger, Mortality - 2017' report provided at, a tiger cub died/was killed on 27.12.17 in Kanha. Santosh Yadav, owner-cum-driver of safari gypsies in Kanha, is of the opinion that the cub was killed by Munna. Munna himself had sustained minor injuries in the process, but is now quite well.

bidhanpaul | over 1 year ago

Thank you:-))That is good to hear.. Im planning a visit there in June 2018.

christina.little | over 1 year ago

Munna was sighted on 16.10.17 in the Kisli zone by Sri Santosh Yadav, owner-cum-driver of safari gypsies at Kanha. Munna must be almost 15 years old, but, from the video clipping sent by Santoshji, he appears to be in pretty good shape for his age. It was a lengthy sighting offering several head-on shots and reminding one of Munna in his younger days.

bidhanpaul | over 1 year ago

This guy looks young. How is Munna ?

christina.little | over 1 year ago

31 May 2017 Photo was added almost 2 years ago


Sighted at Baba Thenga, Mukki zone at evening time around 5.30 pm

Mini_user_default Uploaded by Doreen  

27 Apr 2017 Photo was added about 2 years ago


The Mysterious eye, T-27 Dhawajhandi female

Mini_img_5132 Uploaded by Mrityunjay Kanwar  

Nice click

Veerumbarje | 18 days ago

WOW! Gorgeous photo!

tigerfan | almost 2 years ago

24 Mar 2017 Photo was added about 2 years ago



Mini_fb_img_1497900158525 Uploaded by JAY(MJ)  

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