The Kanha Core Zone, is one of the finest wildlife protected areas not only in south-east Asia, but also in the world. It is a typical geo-physiographical representative of the central Indian Highlands, a significant geographical region of our country, as far as the occurrence and distribution of flora and fauna are concerned. The protected area represents a unique nature reserve of central Indian Highlands sal and miscellaneous woodland and grasslands.
The Core Zone and its immediate surroundings are nestled slightly east of the centre of the highlands and it occupies, for the most part, the northern slopes of the main Maikal ridge in the Satpuras, and the valley is encompassed by the spurs of varying elevations extending from the main hill ranges. The eastern and the western half of the Core Zone form part of the Halon and the Banjar valley respectively.
The protected area forms part of an eco-region once renowned internationally for its immense natural wealth, and these forest-tracts were regarded as some of the finest and hitherto untouched wilderness areas in the country. Long history of stringent protection against all kinds of biotic pressure and a range of diverse habitat types along with conservation oriented villages inside and outside the Core Zone, ensure the status of Kanha as a world class nature reserve and a promising centre of biodiversity. The Core Zone also supports an endemic population of the hard ground barasingha (Cervus duvauceli branderi), whose commendable resurrection over the years has become a very inspiring success story in wildlife conservation.
Besides, a viable population of the highly endangered tiger, the flagship species, now-a-days debated passionately the world over for its protection, is also being conserved most successfully in the Core Zone. The protected area also harbours a wide range of faunal species, some of which figure prominently in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Some of these species are Cuon alpinus, Melursus ursinus, Lutra perspicillata, Panthera pardus, Panthera tigris tigris, Bos gaurus and Python molurus.
- Endangered Tiger (Sch. I) - a viable population
- Endemic Central Indian Swamp Deer
- Around 43 species of mammals
- 26 species of reptiles including Indian Python and Indian Egg-Eating Snake
- Around 350 species of birds
- Around 150 species of butterflies
- Around 169 spp. Spiders and 480 spp. Insects
- Rich flora, largely due to the combination of land forms and soil types and the moist
character of the region
- Nearly 20 rare plants identified
- Around 50 aquatic plants
- Total around 850 Plant Species