Vast, Kipling-esque and supporting an incredible diversity of wildlife across grasslands, wetlands, open meadows and highland forest, Kanha is the largest park in Central India and perhaps the country’s greatest wildlife reserve. The park’s bounds cover around 550km2
over two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar. Combined with a buffer zone measuring around 1,000km2
, and the nearby Phen Sanctuary, it forms the Kanha Tiger Reserve, home to some 100 Royal Bengal tigers. Protecting the tiger here was controversial, as it required the enforced relocation of the semi-nomadic Baiga people to what turned out to be barren land, leading to high rates of alcoholism and destitution.
But this is where India’s successful drive to protect its tigers had its beginning, and Kanha continues to be one of the most popular places in the country for tiger safari vacations
. Sadly, recent years have seen the tiger population depleted by poaching, but the park is still an immensely popular destination for wildlife vacations, and income from tourism convinces local people to help protect the remaining tigers.