The Kanha Tiger Reserve, which has been featured in many documentaries include an award-winning film from National Geographic called “Land of the Tigers,” is an animal lover and conservationists dream. Guests can stay multiple days and spend time viewing these unique and endangered species as well as many others.
Kanha is one of the oldest existing wildlife sanctuaries in India, as it was officially declared as a Reserved Forest way back in 1879. In 1933 it was upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary, followed by an official designation as a national park in 1955 and finally a tiger reserve in 1973. The reserve sits on just under 950 kilometers and is divided into two different districts - Banjar and Hallon. It has been rated as one of the top 10 famous tourist destinations in the world. Certain parts of the world-famous book by Rudyard Kipling, “The Jungle Book,” are rumored to have been based on some of the jungle areas found inside Kanha. The reserve also has its own official mascot - Bhoorsingh (the Barasingha - which roughly translates to “swamp deer”).
The attractions at Kanha are divided into two main categories - flora and fauna.
? Fauna - There are so many different types of fauna (animals) to see while visiting the reserve that it is highly recommended that guests visit the website to make sure they can see everything during their visit. Besides tigers, there are leopards, wild cats and dogs, deer (make sure to try and find the swamp deer, which is where the reserve got its mascot idea from), hundreds of unique varieties of birdlife, over 25 species of reptiles including snakes and lizards, butterflies, and even endangered species like the hard ground Barasingha (which are part of the reserve’s conservation and reintroduction efforts).
? Flora - The tiger reserve is well known for its floral diversity (the reserve is home to more than one thousand different species of flowering plants), which showcases many of the best types of flora found throughout the region. From streams that are lined with tall, thick bamboo, beautiful plateaus with river beds, and the lowland (which is home to a variety of mixed forest and sal trees) and highland (with a variety of tropical and dry deciduous trees) forests areas, the scenery has become almost as large of a draw as the animals themselves. Make sure to check out the Indian “ghost” tree in the dense forest area as well.
The tiger reserve has posted a variety of viewing tips on their website to help guests make the most of their visit.
? Drive carefully - It is incredibly important to drive slowly and safely while visiting the tiger reserve, not just for guest safety but (most important) for the animals. It is quite common for animals to wander across the roads, but it is also much easier to view all of the creatures that live on the reserve if guests drive slowly and do not scare them.
? Remember that they are wild - Although many of the animals on the reserve appear as though they are domesticated, they are all wild animals and thus are potentially dangerous. Do not approach them or attempt to touch them.
? Plan ahead - It is recommended that guests plan ahead for the weather, and bring a jacket, gloves, and other warmer clothing options during November through February. During the warmer months (April through June), guests are strongly encouraged to wear loose fitting light-colored clothing, sunglasses, and hats as well as making sure to apply plenty of sunscreen.
? Bring binoculars - The reserve is not like a traditional zoo and, thus, not all animals may be easily seen at all times. Plan ahead by bringing binoculars to try and spot the harder and more camouflaged reserve residents.
The tiger reserve also offers tours that can be taken on the back of an elephant, which makes for one of the most interesting and fun ways to see the reserve. Elephants can “seat” up to four people at a time in their haudah (an open viewing platform that sits on the elephant like a saddle) and are led by a knowledgeable mahout (elephant driver).
Entry fees are required for entry to the tiger reserve and vary depending on the type of vehicle being used. Night entry is also allowed for an additional fee. For guests who plan to photograph the animals or the grounds, photography badges/passes are required in advance and are only good for a select amount of time.
The best time of the year to really get the full experience at the tiger reserve is between February and June. Morning visiting hours are between 6:30 am and 11:00 am and evening visiting hours are between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm. The reserve is closed to the general public between the first of July and the 15th of October.
There are a variety of fun and important special events that are hosted at the tiger reserve. One of the biggest is the event thrown for International Tiger Day, which is held in July. Meant to help generate public awareness about the plight of tigers and the important of tiger conservation, this special day provides guests with lectures, games, shows, crafts, and other information to engage and educate. The event finishes with a special play put on by local school children about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Another fun event is the elephant rejuvenation camps that are held on the reserve. Usually held around the same time as International Tiger Day, the camps are meant to add fun and enrichment to the elephants that provide the tours for guests visiting the reserve. The elephants are given special foods and lots of positive attention. It is also a fun way to get up close and personal with this large and amazing creature.
There are also multiple companies that work closely with the reserve to provide special safari tours. Led by educated and experienced naturalists, these tours are done by jeep and explore the four different regions of the reserve where motor vehicles are allowed - Mukki, Sarhi, Kisli, Kanha. The safari tours can fit up to six people at a time and are offered once in the morning and once in the evening.
There are a variety of souvenir shops located on the tiger reserve, usually inside the lodges and resorts that guests stay at while visiting. These shops sell many different types of gifts, depending on the shop, and have stuffed animals, apparel, jewelry, and home goods. These shops are essential to the support and care of the resort and its animals.
Kahna Tiger Reserve, Mandla (Madya Pradesh) 481 661, Phone: 0-76-42-25-07-60