Kanha supports a viable population of tigers and an endemic population of the hard ground barasingha. The reserve also harbours 43 species of mammals, including predators like the leopard, and wild dog, herbivores like the gaur, sambar and chital, and scavengers like the hyena and jackal.
The reserve has 26 species of reptiles. The snakes include the cobra, saw-scaled viper, wolf snake and Indian python, the lizards include the Indian monitor, gecko and chamelon. Kanha is also teeming with several hundred species of insects and other invertbrates. The floral diversity comprises around 850 species of flowering plants, including 50 species of aquatic and 18 species of rare plants.
The reserve is also rich in avifauna with almost 325 species of birds. Water birds include storks, teals, pintails, herons and egrets. Peafowl, jungle fowl, partridge and quail are the common ground birds. Birds of prey include eagles and kites. While scavengers include vultures, among the nocturnal birds are owls, owlets and nightjars.