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Fields, Forests, and Fauna- Magical Kanha

Kanha National Park, located in the heart of India, is a jewel in the crown of India’s natural heritage and biodiversity. This mystical land has been the source of inspiration for many, especially the renowned author, Rudyard Kipling and his famous book, which I grew up reading, ‘The Jungle Book’. Kanha continues to inspire and awe visitors as I was when I visited the national park in March 2022.

It was truly a miraculous trip and one which I will never forget as we had a miraculous escape when our flight into Jabalpur airport, breached and overshot the runway while landing and ended up sideways off the runway. Luckily all passengers exited the aircraft safely, but it was truly a terrifying experience.

Shaky as we were, we finally made it to Kanha, which is about a 4-hour drive from Jabalpur. With its core zone, spread over an area of approximately 940 Sq Kms, Kahna is just magnificent, which is why it is considered as one of India’s best national parks and is also its largest. Kanha is one the oldest protected areas of India, and was declared a reserve forest in 1879, during the colonial era by the British, and a National Park in 1955 by the Government of India.

The park has a vast biodiversity with large expanse of Sal, bamboo and mixed tree forests, interspersed with lush open grassland meadows. While the Bengal tiger reigns supreme here as well, Kanha is also home to some very rare animals like the Barasingha (Swamp Deer) which I had the opportunity to see and photograph for the first time.

The Hard-Ground Barasingha is endemic to Kanha and their revival is a shining example of the wildlife conservation efforts as there was a time when over hunting, poaching and habitat loss drove the swamp deer to near extinction. Now they are being translocated to other reserves to grow the population. Barasingha is a grand looking species of deer and known for its big antlers. Big males often have 12 or more times, thus giving them the Hindi name of ‘Barasingha’, simply translated to mean the deer with 12 tines or points.  

We were lucky to see herds of Barasingha as they merely grazed in the vast open grassland. It is said that the male Barasingha decorate their antlers with grass to make them look nicer in order to attract females.

Another nice sighting that we had was of the also endangered and absolutely beautiful, Black Buck, which was a first for me. The males have straight ringed horns that grow in a V-shape. The older males have a dark, blackish colouring, with white underbellies, thus giving the species the name ‘Black Buck’.  These are grazers and prefer open and arid grasslands.

We were lucky enough to sight several tigers during our time in Kanha. One was just lazing in the afternoon sun, probably after a big meal. We sat with it for over an hour while it just rolled in the grass, raising its head once in a while and barely giving an opportunity to be photographed. Finally, it decided to move and head towards the treeline casually passing deer and peacocks who also didn’t seem very disturbed, as they probably realised that the tiger was not looking for a meal. It felt great to capture photographs of both deer and a tiger in the same frame! It is definitely a unique addition to my portfolio!

On the same day we saw yet another tiger just as we were leaving the forest. It was sitting on the side of the road, however, because we were losing light due to it getting extremely late, and the presence of many twigs and branches in its way. My photographs turned out slightly distorted, teaching me that it is often hard to get a perfect shot, especially in the wild.

Kanha is truly magnificent and a must visit for any wildlife enthusiast, its pristine forest and amazing wildlife is as good as it gets.   




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