Kanha Tiger Sanctuary
The park is huge and consists of the park itself (just shy of 1,000 Km²) plus a surrounding buffer zone which is the same again. The whole area used to be a maharaja’s private tiger-shooting park which means human activity has always been minimal and the natural habitats are in pristine condition. In fact, if you spend 3 nights here, you are virtually guaranteed to see tigers.
The habitats are varied: sal forest in the low-lying areas (reminiscent of English beech woods with dappled light and quite an open forest) interspersed with meadows – ideal stalking country! The upland forest is more tropical and consists of mature deciduous trees, lots of bamboo and a more dense canopy; also ideal stalking country! Tigers thrive here.
The buffer zone allows some human activity (collecting firewood, collecting wild plants for medicinal use but no cultivation of the land for crops or grazing). This is the area of compromise between the natural world and human activity: always controversial and always threatened.
Kanha was a favourite place for Rudyard Kipling while he and his family were living in India. There are several ancient ruined temples within the park as well as jungle-clad citadels. This is the place that inspired the creation of The Jungle Book.
Activities in Kanha
4×4 Jeep safaris are the order of the day; in common with most other parks in India, a zoned routing system is in place, but the rules are less draconian compared to Ranthambore for example: your zone is allocated to you at the time of booking and you may drive anywhere within it but you can’t cross into neighbouring zones. For wildlife enthusiasts Kanha combines well with Bandhavgarh and even Pench tiger reserves.
Kanha’s unique claim to fame is the elephant-back safaris they operate. You can reserve an elephant safari and the Mahout will take the elephant/s to a pre-agreed spot. The 4×4 will drive out to the rendez-vous; you mount the elephant and toddle off in search of tigers. Thrilling!
Sloth bears and dhole (a red fox-type canine! Very smartly dressed) and the rare Indian wolf can be seen in the east of the park. Herbivores include chital and the larger sambar deer, barasingha, chousingha, nilgai all of whom feature on a tiger’s menu. Other cats are leopard, jungle cat and civet. You may also see striped hyena, gaur (similar to buffalo) jackal, rhesus macaque, hanuman langur, flying squirrel, mongoose, porcupine, honey badger and lots of wild boar (also popular with tigers).
The park opens after monsoon: opens 16th October to 30th June.
The climate is most comfortable in winter between November and May.
Bizarrely, the park closes on Wednesday afternoons!