How to Enjoy Wildlife at Kanha National Park?

by pateluday

This is an article about Kanha National Park situated in Central India in the State of MP. The article informs how to organize a successful and enjoyable tiger safari in Kanha.

Kanha National Park in Central India is one of the most renowned tiger conservation centers. It compares with the best in the World. The park is home to many mammals, reptiles, insects, and birds besides the big cats like the tiger and the leopard.

A large population of big cats survives in the reserve, hence it is subject to tourism. Every year from mid-October to the end of June many tourists from all over the world arrive here to see the tiger in the wild. As a matter of fact, tourism is indispensable and generates impressive revenue for the park's upkeep.

The preserve is extensively described in "The Highlands of Central India" by James Forsyth. Once contiguous with Pench, Achanakmar, and Bandhavgarh, the reserve is now isolated from them.

This article provides information about the park and offers advice on how to enjoy it better.

Kanha National Park

Kanha Tiger Reserve

Situated in the Maikal Hills of  Satpura Ranges that encompasses the State of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha is a paradise on earth. The Maikal Hills are the convergence point of the Vindhya & Satpura, and the source of River Narmada & Son. The forests received early protection during British Rule. Two valleys namely Halon and Banjar were notified as sanctuaries in that period.  

The topography is unique and the area comprises tabletop mountains, forest on the plains, and rolling meadows interspersed with rivulets that create small water bodies, lakes, and tanks. The valleys at places are steep and run very deep so as to appear unfathomable. The panorama is breathtaking, serene, and wild.  

The present status of Kanha forests is that of a National Park (1955) and Tiger Reserve(1973). The first accords it a protected status, and the latter includes it in the Project Tiger Program. The Project Tiger Program has been initiated with the purpose of conserving tigers. The park has an area of 2005 sq. km of which 945 sq. km is the core or the critical tiger habitat, and the rest is a buffer.   

Thanks to the expansion program which resulted in the addition of neighboring Phen Wildlife Sanctuary and Supkhar Range. This made Kanha the biggest National Park in Central Asia. In 1969 twenty-seven villages from the core area were shifted outside the protected area. Most of the villages comprised Baiga and Gond Tribal.  

Human intervention has always been kept at a minimal level, and nature has been allowed to recover itself. The park is subject to constant surveillance by the staff and upper management. The Eco-development schemes involve and invite the participation of locals who have been shifted outside the core zone.  

Kanha Wildlife Images

Hard Ground Swamp Deer Male
Hard Ground Swamp Deer Male
John Matthai

Kanha Wildlife

Wild Animals of Kanha National Park

Leopard at KanhaKanha is home to about 100 tigers, and their number is steadily growing every year. A large number of leopards also inhabit this amazing biodiversity hub. This speaks highly of excellent management and conservation research that has been carried out for years. One of the notable achievements that have brought fame to the park is the conservation of hard-ground barasingha or hard-ground swamp deer.  This is a unique race found only in this park, and it has recently been shifted to nearby places in small numbers.

The swamp deer was brought back from the brink of extinction. In the sixties, their number had come down to sixty-six, hence in order to save the species a research program was conducted. Mr. George Schaller is a world-renowned scientist and field biologist from the USA. He was instrumental in unearthing important findings about the problem facing the endangered animal. He along with the help of Kanha management created a large enclosure free of predators. The animals were kept in this enclosure to safeguard them. The additional protection resulted in an increased population due to a reduction in infant mortality and predation. There are more than 350 Barasinghas surviving in the park today.    

Other megafauna of the park is the wild dog, gaur, sambar deer, spotted deer, blue bull, barking deer, wild boar, leopard; sloth bear, mouse deer, four-horned deer, jackal, and fox. A number of nocturnal animals reside in the forests of Kanha National Park.  On tiger safari, one can also see and photograph a number of birds. Recent night safaris are being organized in the buffer to provide an experience of the nightlife of the park.

Among the reptiles python, rat snakes, bronze tree snakes, and cobras are often seen. Reptiles like the common krait and Russell's Viper are nocturnal. The wolf snake, olivaceous keelback, bamboo pit viper, leaf nose tree snake; trinket snake, and cat snake are often seen in the undergrowth. More species found here are:

  •     Brahminy Worm Snake
  •     Sand boa   
  •     Forsten Cat Snake
  •     Checkered keelback
  •     Red boa
  •     Cantor's Black-headed Snake
  •     Indian Egg Eater Snake
  •     Green keelback
  •     Barred Wolf Snake
  •     Blue striped keelback

Very little research has been carried out on the reptiles of the park. In time to come more species will be added to the list.  

Swamp Deer
Swamp Deer
John Matthai

Birds of Kanha Tiger Reserve

Kanha Birding

Gold Mantled ChloropsisThe diverse topography and varied climate make Kanha National Park home to many avian wonders. The numbers are augmented in winter whence the migrant from North India, Asia, and Europe arrive.

But the best season for birding at Kanha is in summer whence the canopy is thin. The thin foliage offers better sighting of birds, albeit only resident ones can be seen. The park is home to forest species but one does come across wetland species near the water bodies.

More than two hundred fifty bird species can be found at Kanha. Some of the  star attractions are:

  • Red Spurfowl
  • Painted Spurfowl
  • Malabar Pied Hornbill
  • Gray Hornbill
  • Shama
  • Painted Francolin
  • Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  • Black Naped Monarch
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Crested Hawk-Eagle
  • White-Eyed Buzzard
  • Honey Buzzard
  • Black Shouldered Kite
  • Common Kestrel
  • Small Minivet
  • Long Tailed Minivet
  • Common Iora
  • Plum Headed Parakeet
  • Alexandrine Parakeet
  • Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
  • Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
  • Golden Oriole
  • Black Headed Oriole
  • Common Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Lesser Whistling Teal
  • Brahminy Duck
  • Snake Bird
  • Lesser Adjutant Stork
  • Painted Stork
  • Wooly Necked Stork
  • Velvet Fronted Nuthatch
  • Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
  • Racket Tailed Drongo
  • Spangled Drongo
  • White Bellied Drongo
  • Black Drongo
  • Peacock
  • Long Tailed Shrike
  • Brown Shrike
  • Red Avadavat
  • Black Headed Munia
  • Spotted Munia
  • White Backed Munia
  • Indian Scimitar Babbler
  • Indian Pitta
  • Coppersmith Barbet
  • Banded Bay Cuckoo
  • Common Hawk Cuckoo
  • Indian Cuckoo
  • Eurasian Cuckoo
  • Brown Fish Owl
  • Oriental Scops Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl
  • Green Pigeon
  • Indian Roller
  • Hume's Warbler
  • Sulphur Bellied Warbler
  • Tickell's Warbler
  • Thick Billed Flowerpecker
  • Pale Billed Flowerpecker
  • Greenish Warbler

The above list comprises a small number of species whereas the tiger reserve has more to offer.       

Kanha National Park Video

Kanha Wildlife Video

Tourism at Kanha How to Enjoy?

Tiger Safari

The tiger safari at Kanha National Park is organized for tracking tigers in the wild. The safari is conducted in open jeeps driven by an organized road network. The road network intersects through a wide cross-section of the park in the core zone often called the tourism zone. 

There are four zones in the National Park for tourism these Kanha Zone is preferred the most. The reason for Kanha being a premium zone is the presence of excellent grassland habitats, dense forests, and water bodies that attract game.

Other Zones are:

  • Kisli
  • Mukki
  • Sarhi

The only way to enjoy wildlife is on open jeep safaris since trekking is not allowed except on one nature trail. The jeep safaris take place in the morning and evening at fixed times. The timings are usually from the break of sunlight to noon, and from late noon to a little before sunset.    

A gate entry charge and booking are necessary before one can enter the park. Eighty percent of gate entry is booked online. and a zone is designated while doing so. Hence book your favorite zone when paying for the gate entry. All this is subject to availability because entry is limited in each zone. So book much in advance while finalizing your tour. Booking is done on the MP Online Website.

The jeep for excursions is available locally at a fixed rate from the association. All your bookings and safari arrangements can be done by the resort you prefer to stay at. This is better than doing it yourself. The resort owners have a better idea of zones and will book the best one for you. 

A forest guide accompanies you on all excursions, but if you wish you can hire expert naturalists with the help of locals or resort management. Some resorts employ resident naturalist who accompanies you on all trips.  

Interpretation Centers 

These centers are situated within the park and are ideal for recreation and expanding your knowledge about the wilderness ecosystem. The centers are equipped with audio-visual devices that focus on the ecosystem and the wild animals in Kanha. There is no fee applicable and the visit is free of cost. 


Kanha is the best place for bird watching while on a jeep safari but you can also watch avian species on the outskirts. You should seek the services of the hotel naturalists to be enlightened on the bird walks.

Village & Local Bazaar Tours

He can also conduct village tours in the localities nearby for you to understand how people live in the confines of dense forests and wild animals. You can also enjoy their traditional dance and music and partake in local food. 

The village tour could be coupled with a visit to the local market visit held on a specific day of the week. This will be an eye-opener to expand your knowledge about village life near the park. People buy merchandise essential to their needs and also partake in the local street food and singing and dancing that is often organized on the day the bazaar is held. Such visits add to a holistic experience and add meaning to an ecotourism holiday.    


Proper guidance makes a difference, and you may see more of wildlife and birds this way. Before arriving for a tiger safari do a little bit of reading on India and the park. There are many books, and literature available in stores and online as well. Carry these books with you along with a pair of good binoculars.

Keep lots of warm clothing in winter, and wear a Khaki during the dry summers. A hat will help you shield yourself from direct sunlight in the tropics. 

Indian wildlife is very secretive, and it offers an element of surprise which can really thrill you to the bone. Hence be alert, and keep calm while on safari. 

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Male Tiger Kanha
Male Tiger Kanha
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Tirath Singh
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Gold Mantled Chloropsis
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Blue Bearded Beeater
Blue Bearded Beeater
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Accommodation in Kanha

Hotels & Resorts

Madhya Pradesh Tourism or MPTDC has economic accommodations in form of a dormitory, as well as a luxury hotel it owns. Some accommodation is also provided by the forest department at the Khatia Gate.

Government Rest House is available only for officials and VIP guests. The rest houses are situated at Kisli Gate and Mukki Gate inside the core zone. With permission from the CF at Mandla one can book rooms here whenever available.    

There are more than thirty resorts pertaining to various categories for a stay. Locals too have benefitted from guest arrivals, and rent out one or two rooms in their well-furnished huts. They also serve homemade food or order from local restaurants. These are sort of homestays that provide incredibly cheap accommodation in the periphery of the preserve. These are eco-friendly options since the benefit goes to the locals who are the inheritors of the natural wealth.   

There are a large number of hotels and resorts on the periphery of Kanha National Park. The tariff ranges from budget to luxury hotels. The well-equipped luxury hotels in Kanha are most suited for tiger tourism and birding trips. These are preferred over other accommodations that provide only food and room. There are a few five-star and three-star resorts in Kanha for upscale tourists.


Reaching Kanha


Kanha is situated in Mandla District in the State of Madhya Pradesh. The Central Indian preserve is accessible from Jabalpur which is connected by air to Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and New Delhi. The airport is also connected with major towns of Madhya Pradesh like Indore and Bhopal. Jabalpur is well connected by rail network with all major towns of India. 

Kanha is 156 km from Jabalpur City via Mandla by road.

Other Distances

  • Raipur - 265 km
  • Gondia - 140 km
  • Pench National Park - 180
  • Bandhavgarh National park - 240 km

The local bus network offers cheap transport to Kanha National Park. They are less reliable but the only source of cheap travel from Jabalpur, Raipur, and Mandla. Only a few buses ply on Mandla/Baihar to Kanha route.

Kanha Map


Tiger Safari

India Kanha National Park

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Updated: 12/01/2022, pateluday
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pateluday on 02/15/2020

Kanha has blue peacock and yes venomous snakes!

DerdriuMarriner on 02/07/2020

pateluday, Thank you for the photos, practicalities and products.
Does Kanha not have blue Indian peafowl? I notice that it has cobras and Russell's vipers, against whose bites blue Indian peafowl feather steroids inhibit the poisonousness. Might there be another local, regional, traditional remedy?

pateluday on 06/17/2015


sonali on 12/04/2014

Lovely pictures...

pateluday on 10/11/2014

Thanks! Many Protected areas have been created in India in order to save the tiger and other life forms!

ologsinquito on 10/11/2014

It's good there is a such an area set aside for these beautiful animals. I'm so happy to hear the tiger population is increasing. I'm pinning this to my See the World board.

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