KANHA NATIONAL PARKand Tiger Reserve is the largest protected area in central India. Tracts of Kanha have been a wildlife sanctuary since 1933. In 1955, 318 sq km was declared a National Park and in 1973, 940 sq kms became one of India’s original nine Project Tiger Reserves. Kanha was expanded in 1976 - the National Park now has a core area of 940 sq km and a buffer zone of 1,009 sq km.
Kanha is situated in the Maikal hills, in the Satpura range of the central Indian highlands, in the State of Madhya Pradesh (22° 17'N, 80° 38'E). The land rises from 450 to 950 metres above sea level, and is drained by tributaries of the Narmada River. There are four main vegetation types - moist deciduous forest, dry deciduous forest, valley meadow, and dadar meadow. The moist deciduous forest, which covers 27% of the Park area, is dominated by sal trees. The forest is interspersed with grassy meadows, the result of early slash-and-burn cultivation by Baiga tribals.
The winter months (November to early March) are cool and dry, with the day temperature rarely going above a comfortable 32°C, and the night temperature dipping as low as 2°C with occasional frost. By mid-January most deciduous trees begin to shed their leaves. By early February, the simal trees are covered in large scarlet flowers and the sal are soon covered in bright green, new growth. The rutting season of the barasingha - one of the rarest animals on earth - is in December and January. Their haunting, bugling calls echo across the Kanha meadows and spectacular fights between stags can be seen.
The summer months (March to mid-June) are hot and dry, with temperatures ranging from 42°C in the day to 20°C at night. The grasses on the meadows are pale and parched.
The Park is closed to visitors once the monsoon breaks in mid to late June. Kanha is transformed with lush new growth.
The rivers fill to bursting point. It is humid and wet with temperatures ranging from 20° to 30°C. Kanha has an annual
rainfall of 1600 mm (~64 inches) or more, 95% of which falls during the monsoon, from late June to September.
The Park reopens again on 16th October.