Flora :

The forest is mixed and given the high rainfall precipitation one finds extensive stretches of Sal (Shorea robusta), a tree of moist deciduous forest in central and north India. The Sal is good quality timber, the leaves are good fodder, fruits have nutritional & medicinal value and is valued greatly by tribals.

The other common tree species belong to the Terminalia genus, the most numerous being what in India is popularly known as Crocodile bark, the earlier Scientific name being Terminalia tomentosa, now it is referred to as Terminalia crenulata, it is good timber, locals call it as Saja and in Maharashtra it is called as Ain.

  Flora & Fauna
Terminalia arjuna, locally called Arjun is distinct because of its pale bark and thick girth, is more common near water sources. Other Terminalia species are Terminalia chibula and Terminalia bellarica, Axle wood (Anogeisis latifolia), locally referred to as Dhaoda, good for making charcoal and agricultural implements is common.
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Labernum or Amaltas (Cassia fistula) with lovely yellow blossoms in the dry season and Flame of the forest or Palas (Butea frondosa) a glorious sight in the drier season when it is flowering, are found sprinkled all over the forest. Huge trees of Baja (Pterocarpus marsupium) & Haldu (Adena cardifolia) along with host of other large & small trees comprise the thick forest.

Evergreen trees like Mango (Mangifera indica) and of Jamun or Black plum (Syzigium cumini) are also found. Bamboo thickets (Dendrocalamus strictus) are commonly found, the undergrowth is quite thick with species like Lantana and Glerodendron. The rolling meadows of grass and grassy plateau are integral to the health of the herbivore population.

In some areas wildlife management practices have deliberately prevented the progression of secondary and climax vegetation to ensure adequate grasslands for the herbivores. No note on flora can be complete without a note on tall luxurian tree, Mahuwa (Madhuca Indica). Flowers of the tree useful as food and are source of very popular liquor which is compared to Ambrosia or nector of the god.

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Fauna :

The largest herbivore here is the Indian Wild Ox or Gaur (Bos gaurus) mistakenly called as Indian Bison. A magnificent animal, found in small herds more towards the Mukki region of the park. The Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the largest Indian deer, usually found singly.

The most significant deer species in this forest is the sub species of the Swamp deer - the Barasingha (Cervus durauceli branderi), often referred to as "The Jewel of Kanha", Kanha being the only remaining habitat.

It is distinct from the Swamp deer found in the swampy areas of the north in having a darker coat and well knit hooves instead of the splayed hooves of the other subspecies. This deer was pushed to the brink of extinction in the early 1970s with their number going down to around 66, now with conservation efforts it has gone up to around 500.

The most commonly seen deer is the Chital or Spotted deer (Axis axis) in large herds. The Muntjac or Barking deer (Munitiacus muntjac) a small plain solitary deer is seen quite regularly.

  Flora & Fauna  
Chital Or Spotted Deer (Axis Axis) :

Among the large predators, the Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) takes pride of place. A fascinating animal, an encounter with one even from a jeep or elephant can be a spine tingling experience for the sheer majesty, grace and power which the tiger exudes.

The Leopard (Panthera paradus), is the most ubiquitous of the large predators in India. Leopard, a agile tree climber, often carrying its prey up trees is a remarkable and the most adaptable predator.

The Dhole or Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus), referred to as whistling hunters are very interesting in terms of stories of their hunting prowess. They hunt in packs between 7 to 15 and tire out their prey with long chases. Jackal (Canis aurens), Jungle cat (Felis bengalensis) are common among the small predators.

The Sloth bear (Melursus ursianus) is more common in the hilly areas, can occasionally be seen. It is an omnivore with its diet mostly made up of berries, honey and insects. Porcupine, Pangolin or Scaly anteater are very rarely seen. Wild boar (Sus scrofa) which feeds on roots, carrion etc., is very commonly seen.

  Flora & Fauna  

Apart from the larger animals, Kanha is a veritable paradise for birdwatchers. From the larger raptors like the Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), the Crested Hawk-Eagle (Spizactus cirrhutus) and Crested serpent Eagle (Spilorrns cheela), many smaller birds like the grassland Warblers (Sylviinae spc.), Flycatchers (Muscicapinae sps.), Bee-eaters (Meropidae sps.), Minivets (Pericrocotus sps.), brilliantly coloured Indian Roller or Blue Jay (Coracias bengalensis), Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) , Black stork (Cicinia nigra), Barbets, Nuthatchers, so many kinds of Woodpeckers and the Kingfishers are resident species of Kanha. In the drier months and during monsoon time, the forest resounds with the call of the Hawk Cuckoo or Brainfever bird (Cuculus varius).

Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus), the ancestor of the common village hen makes its appearance in these forests as south of Vindhyas GreyJungle Fowl (Gallus sonerati) is seen instead of this. The Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), the national bird is commonly seen.

The display of the male is breathtaking but as it occurs in the rainy season, one can't see that in this park. In the evenings one can see the Franklin's Nightjar (Coprimulgus affinis) sitting motionless in the middle of the path and takes off only when the vehicle goes very close.

The evenings also echo with the calls of Jungle Owlet (Glaucidiuns radiatum), the Scops Owl (Otus scops) and occasionally the Great Horned Owl (Bubo bubo). In the drier months the lilting call of the Whistling Thrush (Myiophonus horsfieldii) is really melodious. Truly the park is a birdwatchers delight.

Among the snakes, the largest and the one mostly seen here is the Indian Python (Python molurus), other nonvenomous snakes are the Dhaman or Rat snake (Ptyas mucosus) - similar to Indian Cobra in appearance and the Wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus). Among the venomous snakes the common ones are Indian Cobra (Naja naja) and the Saw Scaled viper (Echis carinatus).

Butterflies including the Blue Mormon (Princeps polymiestor), Blue Oakleaf (Kallima horsfieldi), Common Jezebel (Delias eucharis), the Nawab (Polyura athamas athamas) are few of the attractive butterflies. Giant Wood spider, Signature spider, Wolf spider are some of the common spider species.

  Flora & Fauna