(Last Updated on : 01-07-2013)
The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve is one of the most popular and attractive wildlife sanctuaries in India. The park is situated in the lower southern reaches of the Satpura hills, on the border of Madhya Pradesh and adjoining Maharashtra. It is located in the Seoni District of Southern Madhya Pradesh and runs in continuation in Maharashtra. It is well known for the abundance of flora and fauna that it houses. The park is home to several varieties of species of wildlife and it is named after the river that flows nearby, Pench. The park was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 1983 and in 1992, it was included under the umbrella of "Project Tiger" as the 19th Project Tiger Reserve in India. After being included under the Project Tiger, the India Eco-development Project was started in Pench Tiger reserve in 1996-97 with the aid from World Bank. A total of 99 villages around the tiger reserve have been identified under this project, in order to develop their own resources. The main objective behind this is to enable the villages to mitigate their dependency on the project area.
The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve was once referred by Sir Rudyard Kipling in his book named "Jungle Book", for its wonderful scenic beauty and great collection of flora and fauna. The park has a huge area of 757.89 sq. km, out of which 292.85 sq km is for the National Park and 118.31 sq. km has been allotted to the Tiger Reserve. Apart from that, there is also a huge forest area of 346.89 sq km in this park. The Pench Tiger Sanctuary is covered with well stocked teak and mixed forest and the main flora of the park is Teak. Apart from Teak, the visitors can also found the other notable plants like Saja, Bija, Lendia, Haldu, Dhaora, Aonla, Amaltas, Moyan, Mahua, Mokha, Skiras, Tendu, Bija, Achar, Garari, Aonla, Ghont, Baranga, Amaltas, Kihamali, Khair, Palas etc. in this park. The ground of the park is also covered with a number of grasses, bushes, herbs and shrubs. A large number of winter birds from north get attracted to this large reservoir with sporadic islands and visit the park, on a regular basis.
The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve is home to a rich wildlife, including several species of birds, animals, reptiles and vegetation. This great collection of the park attracts a large number of visitors from all over the world, every year. The most notable animals found in this park include the Cheetal, Sambar, Neelgai, Jackals, etc. Apart from them, the packs of wild dogs and herds of Gaur can also be seen occasionally. The Langurs are one of the most common animals found in this park and the Rhesus monkeys are also quite common. The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve houses around 55 Tigers and 30 Leopards and they can be seen on roads and near water pools of river during summer months. The Leopard Cats, Small Indian Civets and Palm Civets, Sloth Beer, Chinkara etc. can also be seen in this park. Apart from that, the park is also home to 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians.
Apart from the animals, the Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve also boasts more than 210 species of birds including several migratory ones. Some of the most commonly seen birds in this park include the Pea fowl, Red Jungle Fowl, Crow Pheasant, Crimson Breasted Barbet, Red Vented Bulbul, Racket Tailed Drongo, Magpie Robin, Lesser Whistling Teal, etc. There are many flat topped hills in and around the park that allow fine vistas of the forests around. The best known among these hills is 'Kalapahar' with an altitude of 650 mts. The Pench River flows through the centre of the Reserve and it becomes dry by April. However, there are also a number of water pools that are locally known as 'dohs', can be found in this park. These serve as waterholes for the wild animals. The Pench Reservoir at the center of the park serves as the only major water source during the pinch period.