Kanha Tiger Reserve is located in the Maikal Hills of the Satpuras spreading over two revenue districts – Mandla and Balaghat.Kanha was declared a reserve forest in 1879 and notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933. Its status was further upgraded to a national park in 1955. The habitat has an excellent interspersion of geographical attributes and welfare factors which foster a rich population of wildlife.
Kanha National Park is divided under 4 zones namely Mukki, Kanha, Kisli, and Sarhi zones.
Unofficially the most popular zone of all due to favourable tiger and wildlife sightings. This zone is used mostly by tourists staying on the Mukki side of the Park. This is an ideal zone to look for Tigers, Hard Ground Swamp Deer, Indian Bison, Wild Dogs, and Leopards. The waterholes harbor many water birds. The topography is less hilly with marshy grasslands at Soundher and Bishanpura.
Kanha Zone ensconces Sal belt, mixed forests, grassy meadows and number of water bodies like Sarvan Taal. The meadows are preferred for tiger safaris as maximum numbers of tiger sightings take place here. Elephant rides or tiger show are regularly held here which increase the chance of sighting tigers.
Kisli Zone lies adjacent to Kanha Zone and has the same habitat type. The meadows are smaller but nevertheless tiger sightings are as good. The road leads to Bhamni Dadar Sightseeing point. The Nakti ghati anicut is good for birding and offers a good chance to see the tigers in dense forests.
Sarai Zone is a recent addition to tourism infrastructure at Kanha. The area consists of dense mixed forests and is considered as most scenic. The gate does not have accommodations close by hence tourists stay at the Khatia village. The entry for tiger safari at Sarhai is through the Khatia Gate used for entry into Kanha and Kisli Zones. This is a good place to see the Nilgai or Blue Bull antelope besides tigers and other animals . This zone is about 60kms from the Mukki gate.