Panna Tiger Reserve
Panna situated in the Vindhyan hill range and spreads over 543 sq. km., was once a hunting reserve of the erstwhile Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar states. Now under project tiger, this open forest, offers great opportunity see wildlife including tigers.
One of the most significant ecological aspects of the reserve is that the district Panna marks the northernmost boundary of natural distribution of teak and the eastern limits of
teak-kardhai Anogeissus pendula mixed forests.
Plateau topography with underlying slopes, cliffs with talus (slopes) and sehas (The nalas or the small rivers originating from the plateau generally make falls locally called “Seha” and thereafter valleys are formed) offers outstanding habitats for the various species of flora and fauna.
The Ken River and savannah forests, along with mixed forests on the slopes offer a variety of habitats which enhance the habitat value of the park, besides offering one of the best landscapes of dry deciduous tiger habitats in the country. A spot known as Dhundwa Seha (the water falls from a height in the gorge in monsoons and for a short time during post monsoons, gives a misty look thus the name Dhundwa or misty) offers one such glimpse.This place is also known as: “Tiger and Vulture Heaven” by wildlife lovers as it provides excellent habitat for these species.
Flora & Fauna
Predominantly, Panna has the dry deciduous forest often interspersed with grasslands. Its lower altitudes are characterized by taller grasses and closed woodlands.
Trees such as kardhai (Anogeissuspendula) and katha (Acacia catechu) are the dominant species occurring on the steep, dry slopes of the plateau. Teak trees are also found in plenty. Fruit trees like tendu, amla, ben, achar and ghont are also found. Other tree species include tendu (Diospyrosmelanoxylon), mahua (Madhucaindica), chironji (Buchannialatifolia), and Bosweliaserrata. The common bamboo also occurs in abundance on hilly slopes and gorges. On the rocky terrain shrubs like Lantana camara, Zizyphusmauritiana, Grevia spp. etc. grow.
Apart from tiger, the park supports a sizable population of sloth bear, leopard, and striped hyena. Other prominent carnivores are jackal, wolf, wild got, jungle cat. The major ungulates that form prey for these carnivores are sambar, chital, nilgai, four horned antelope, wild boar, chinkara etc. India’s ‘Big Four’ snakes, the spectacled Cobra, Saw Scaled Viper, Common Krait and Russel’s Viper are also found here.
Panna is a magnificent birding destination, with more than 200 species, including winter migrants from the Himalayas and Central Asia. From the majestic peacock to a wide varieties of eagles, hawks, buzzards and vultures, as well as a multitude of smaller species, from woodpeckers to rollers, bee eaters, kingfishers and starlings, the variety of birds is staggering. Plenty of Asian paradise flycatchers – the state bird of Madhya Pradesh – can be seen too.
Things to do
Enjoy boat ride on the river Ken which flows through the reserve from south to north. Ken is home of the highly endangered gharial crocodile and marsh crocodile. Several birds are also seen in the river including grey-headed fish eagle.
Boats are rowed by local boatmen who know the river and its habitants too well. Real adventurous can go on a truck tube as their boat, as used by the local fishermen. Alternatively inside the park is also an hour ride on a motorized boat, where the real unlucky misses the crocodiles.
Due to its closeness to Khajuraho, one of the best-known Indian tourist attraction for its temples with erotic carvings, the park is recognized as an exciting stop-over destination.
The reserve is dotted with ancient rock paintings, which are believed to be around two thousand years old. Old relics of the Gondwana period (rule of the tribal people of Central India) are scattered all over the reserve.
Best time to Visit
October – April