The N'Gorongoro of India, Kanha National Park is a very large reserve deep in the forests of central India and has long been known as the ideal place to observe the tiger. Sighting and photographing tigers from elephant back is a memorable experience in Kanha National Park. The Kanha valley was declared a 96 sq mile national park in 1955. Since then the park is expanding and today the total conservation unit encompasses 750 sq miles and is called Kanha Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
Kanha National Park has three distinct types of landscape. Dominated mainly by the stands of Sal and interspersed with wide-open, parkland-like meadows, the river basins have lush moist deciduous forest. A few hundred meters higher are plateau grasslands. At the plateau edges, the steep slopes and escarpments are clothed in dense dry deciduous forest with bamboo thickets and cut by streams beds leading down into the valleys. Kanha is far greener and its cordon of hills is far more densely wooded than any sanctuary in the country.
The valley meadows of Kanha National Park are the haunt of India's largest population of southern barasingha as well as herds of chital. On the slopes and escarpments up to the plateau grasslands may be found sambar, gaur and sloth bear and the ravines are a favorite retreat for tiger. Other predators are leopard, jackal and dhole in the sanctuary. Herds of chital, barasingha, gaur, blackbuck and the wild pig come to the central parkland of the valley, providing the basis for the comparison with N'Gorongoro crater in Tanzania. The swamp deer or barasingha is the jewel of Kanha National Park and its rescue from the brink of extinction is the one of the greatest achievements of conservation in India.
For bird watching, woodland areas near water holes are good places for a longer halt, and a walk along the Banjar River on the southern edge of the park, accessible from Mukki can be rewarding. Kanha's bird life is rich with over more than 300 species recorded. Species of birds like black ibis, partridge, Indian pitta, stone curlew and scavenger vultures among the many can be seen around the water bodies or streams near Kanha, Sonph, Kisli and Mukki.