The World’s most enchanting animal is the Bengal tiger. Highly endangered and on the verge of extinction tiger makes it last stand in the tiger reserves of India. The magical mystery of the tiger and its awesome appearance makes it the most coveted animal to see in the wild.
One of the best places to see the tiger in the wild is Kanha National Park now also referred as a tiger reserve. All National Parks that are governed under the aegis of Project Tiger in India are called tiger reserves.
The forests are moist deciduous type with pure belts of Sal (Shorea Robusta), bamboo on slopes and large tracts of mixed forests. The topography is unique and picturesque with flat topped hills and deep valley interspersed with grasslands. In between ply many rivulets, tributaries of Banjar and Halon rivers both of which are tributaries of Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. Scattered water holes and marshy tanks complete the life support system which plays a crucial role in summers whence water elsewhere dries up.
Kanha in Madhya Pradesh is the best managed tiger park in the World. It has an impressive history of success in conserving bio diversity. The park has succeeded in conserving tigers and their numbers have increased. The park is more popular for saving the Hard Ground Barasingha or swamp deer (Cervus Duavcelli Branderi) the only sub species in the World.
The wildlife of Kanha includes deer, carnivores, coarse feeders and scavengers. Among the deer species swamp deer is the most charismatic followed by the sambar deer which is the largest in Asia. The spotted deer is ubiquitous and is the main prey of the big cats tigers and leopards. Barking deer is often seen while four horned deer is a rare sight. One recent discovery is that of the mouse deer but it is nocturnal and a very rare sight. The grasslands offer the best sightings of deer and other herbivores. Tigers frequent the meadows in search of easy prey.
Major attractions of the park besides the big cats are wild dogs, bison or gaur and the sloth bear. Common animals are langur monkeys, wild boar and spotted deer. Kanha abounds in birdlife many of which can be seen on park safaris. Special guided bird tours yield large number of forest bird sightings. Migratory birds arrive in winters which is the best season for birding The reptiles are shy and nocturnal and rarely seen.
The tiger safaris are conducted on jeeps with accompaniment of a forest guide. The morning safari begins at dawn and ends before lunch. The evening safari begins around three pm and ends by dusk. Gate and guide fees and vehicle entry charges have to be paid at the entrance. Now days the safari route is assigned before entry in order to restrict vehicular movement. The safari offers wide glimpse of Kanha ecosystem and a chance of sighting tigers, other animals and plethora of birds. It is the best to way experience and understands nature’s creation.
A three day stay is recommended. Accommodation is available at luxury hotels in Kanha National Park for wildlife safaris. There are many eco resorts as well as jungle camps for budget stay. In holiday season prior booking is a must. Many hotels provide services of naturalist guides who are knowledgeable of the park ecosystem.
Kanha can be reached from Jabalpur in MP. It is 165 kn from the town. Jabalpur is conected by air with New Delhi and many overnight trains.