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 articles informs how to organize a successful and enjoyable tiger safari in Kanha.

Kanha National Park in Central India is one of the most renowned among the tiger conservation centers and comparable 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 survive in the tiger reserve, hence it is subject to tourism. Every year from mid October to 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 generate 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 how to enjoy it better.

Kanha National Park

Kanha Tiger Reserve

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

The topography is unique and the area comprises of table top mountains, forest on the plains, 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 breath taking, 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 of which 945 is the core or the critical tiger habitat and the rest is buffer.   

Thanks to the expansion program which resulted in 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 of Baiga and Gond Tribal.  

Human intervention has always been kept at 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 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. This speaks highly of excellent management and conservation research that has been carried out since years. One of the notable achievement that has brought limelight 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 has recently been shifted to nearby places in small numbers.

The swamp deer was brought back from 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 a world renowned scientist and field biologist was instrumental in unearthing important findings about the problem facing the endangered animal. He and the Kanha management created a large enclosure free of predators. The animals were kept in this enclosure to safe guard them. The additional protection resulted in increased population due to reduction in infant mortality and predation. There are more than 350 Barasingha surviving in the park today.    

Other mega fauna of the park are 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. 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 experience on night life of the park.

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

  •     Brahminy Worm Snake
  •     Sand boa   
  •     Forsten Cat Snake
  •     Checkered keel back
  •     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 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 makes 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 summers whence the canopy is thin. The thin foliage offers better sighting of birds, albeit only resident one's 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
  • Tikell'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 of small number of species whereas the tiger reserve has more to offer.       

Kanha National Park Video

Kanha Wildlife Video

Tourism at Kanha

Tiger Safari

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

There are four zones in the National Park for tourism of which 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 break of sunlight to noon and from late noon to little before sunset.    

A gate entry charge and booking is 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 the entry is limited in each zone. So book much in advance while finalizing your tour. Booking is done on MP Online Website.

The jeep for excursions are available locally at a fixed rate from the association. Else all your bookings and safari arrangements can be done by the resort you prefer to stay at. 

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

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 winters and wear Khaki during the dry summers. A hat will help you shield from direct sunlight of the tropics. 

Indian wildlife is very secretive and 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
Gold Mantled Chloropsis
Gold Mantled Chloropsis
Tirath Singh
Blue Bearded Beeater
Blue Bearded Beeater
Tirath Singh

Accommodation in Kanha

Hotels & Resorts

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

Government Rest House are available only for the 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 to have benefitted and rent out one or two rooms in their huts which are well furnished. They also serve home made food or order from local restaurants. These are sort of homestay which provide incredibly cheap accommodation in the periphery of the preserve. These are ecofriendly options since the benefit goes to the locals who are the inheritors of the natural wealth.   

There are large number of hotels and resorts in 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 and New Delhi. Jabalpur is well connected by rail network with all major towns of India. 

Kanha is 156 km from Jabalpur City via Mandla.

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

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

Kanha Map



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Tiger Safari

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Updated: 04/11/2021, 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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