Kanha Kisli National Park, the valleys with rich alluvium carry a mixed interspersion of stately, near pure, stands of sal and extensive meadows. It is this characteristic parkland appearance of the valleys that typifies the Kanha landscape. The large grassy clearings are a consequence of old, abandoned cultivation, although many have recently come up as a result of a massive village relocation operation under Project Tiger. This important operation was undertaken with great success in order to meet the twin objective of preventing wild animal damage to the crops and cattle of the interior settlements in the park and to release wildlife habitat from human occupation and disturbance in this prime conservation area. Significantly, the operation was smooth and with full involvement of the affected people who were provided adequate and viable alternatives in the form of agricultural land and new organized housing at sites of their choice outside the park. This has been hailed as a major management success of the Kanha National Park in conservation circles, the world over.
Kanha in Madhya Pradesh (five hours driving from Jabalpur, six from Nagpur) has sometimes been called the N'Gorongoro of India. The simile is apt, albeit Kanha is far greener and its cordon of hills far more densely wooded. Unlike Tanzania's N'Gorongoro, the Kanha valley is not a volcanic crater, though the enclosing hills are a consequence of geologically ancient volcanic activity. The horseshoe-shaped Kanha valley, which accounts for nearly a third and the oldest part of the Kanha National Park, is bound by two distant spurs emanating from the main Mekal ridge, forming its southern rim. The spurs, in their gently tapering traverse, nearly close in the north leaving but a narrow opening for the meandering Sulkum or Surpan river, the valley's main drainage. Herds of the Kanha miscellany, the axis deer (chital), the swamp deer (barasingha), the blackbuck (hiran), the wild pig and occasionally the gaur, throng the central parkland of the valley, providing the basis for the comparison with N'Gorongoro. With its confiding herds and relatively tolerant predators, Kanha offers an almost unrivaled scope to a keen photographer of Indian wildlife.
Wildlife sightings are good all over the preserve. One needs to book park entry in advance and arrange for gypsy as early as possible especially during the holiday season and festivals like Holi, Diwali, Dusshehra, New Year and Week Ends.
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