Kanha National Park
History and Origin
Kanha National Park has a rich history of tiger hunting converted to tiger conservation that dates back to the times of Maharaj Kumar of Vijayanagaram, sometime around 1947-1950. On June 1, 1955, The Kanha Sanctuary was conjured the status of National Park by allocating 252 square km. under National Park rules. The area under protection was then increased in phases. Today this park which is amongst the first 9 tiger reserves under “Project Tiger” in 1973, occupies an area of about 2074 square kilometres. The buffer zone was spread across 1134 sq. km. was created thereafter which constitutes about 49% forest land and the rest village land.
Kanha national park is located in the Central Indian Highlands, comprising of many undulated plains interspersed with peaks and hill ranges. Geographically the terrain is divided into 2 parts with distinct conservation history – the Banjar valley and the Halon valley. The Maikal range runs along the eastern base, separating these 2 valleys. Other typical terrain found are the plateaus or flattened hill tops, locally known as “dadar”, home to herds of wild gaur during the winters. A characteristic landmark that distinguishes Kanha from other National Parks is the Kanha meadows – vast grasslands reinstated from the sites of relocated villages and the main feeding ground of the endangered Barasinga.
Flora and Fauna of Kanhal National Park
Owing to the diversity of habitat, a wide range of flora and fauna have made Kanha national park their homeland. The plateaus with grassy expanses are dotted with fruit bearing trees such as Achar, Aonla and Tendu. The depths of valleys nurture bamboo and Jamun. The beauty of this forest however, primarily lies in the vast expanses of Sal vegetation making it a green haven throughout the year replete with beautiful canopies and golden light streaming in through them. About 600 species of flowering plants, 43 species of mammals and 300 species of birds call this wonderland their home.
Kanha’s fauna varies as per the habitat. The meadows of Kanha national park are rich in ungulates, an endemic species being the Hard Ground Barasingha who was brought back from the brink of extinction through focused wildlife management efforts. Common sights apart from the tiger include leopard, wild dog (though reduced significantly), herbivores like gaur and chital, scavengers like jackal and hyena and small mammals such as the mongoose, porcupine (nocturnal) and wild hare.
Did you know?
The story of the return of the hardground Barasingha speaks volumes about the effort and intensity of wildlife restoration and management activities undertaken. An ungulate with a high food specialization, the species feeds only on a particular type of grass. Rapid decline in habitat combined with this characteristic led to an alarming population decrease with only 66 specimens surviving in the wild in 1970. A series of actions such as maintenance of tall grasses, grass enclosures specific only to the Barasingha and swamp creation were undertaken. Today, we can witness these beautiful antlered species thanks to a case in history of conservation leading to a good population of 600+.