Searching For Tigers at Kanha National Park in India
The search begins as soon as you reach the woods that are part of the buffer at Kanha. The area which includes buffer and core is almost 2000 sq.km and tigers roam free here leaving the urban proximities. But the focus of all the tourists is in the core zone or the critcal tiger habitat. This is where most of the Kanha tigers reside and the designated tourism area is the best place to search for them.
The tourism area is divided into four zones in the core of the National Park. They are the coveted areas where wildlife excursions on open jeeps and canters take place. The zone are labeled as Kanha, Kisli, Sarhi and Mukki zones. Leaving Sarhi which recieves less traffic the rest of the three are preffered choice of the tourists from India and overseas.
Sarhi is one of the most picturesque places with dense Sal forests on hilly tracts, grasslands on plains and mixed forests and bamboo usually on slopes. The flowing rivulets accord the picturesque trait to the whole area and make your drive pleasant. The area close to buffer is drier with mixed forests and it is here that one can see the four horned antelope as well as the bluebull.
Sarhi is good for big cat sightings but some offer an extreme challange to naturalists and guides as they are very shy. The tigresses are more difficult to locate in this zone and requires summoning of all your tracking skills and experience. Nevertheless some big cats are often seen in this zone in area that connects it with the Kisli Zone.
Kisli zone is closest to the gate and on and off it is preferred by tourists depending upon the sightings at that moment. This is because absence of females at the given juncture either they move into the buffer or are very shy. Males are often seen here but the frequency is less as they too move into the buffer in search of livestock especially the cows.
Kanha Zone is famous right from the start because of high visibility of tigresses with cubs in the grasslands and males in dense forests. Kanha meadows are place where Schaller did most of his research. The access is through Kisli hence part of that zone is screened as well on safaris.
Mukki is about twenty plus kilometers from the Khatia Gate while a sperate independant gate is available from the Mukki village. This is again the hot bed of tigers males and breeding females and with large number of waterholes they attract the big cats often especially in the summers.
Anyway tourists, filmmakers and wildlife photographers should opt from all the zones for they have some unique features for landscape and nature photography. Bird lovers should prefer Sarhi the most. While the buffer zones are not coveted these can be ideal for bird watchers for those looking for big game the ride will usually end in disappointment.
For tiger safari in the park a permit is required while the jeeps are available at hand permits are not. Hence visit the Online website to book safari permits and select the zones. If you take assistance of the Kanha hotel you are staying that is advised. They will plan your safaris better. All seasons are good but you should avoid the festival rush and the weekends. The park is closed during the monsoon i.e. from July to September.