Pench Tiger Reserve
Land of Mowgli
In the twilight zone the wolf pack scurried past us at lightning speed. We were in Mowgli Land.
Rudyard Kipling wrote about the Seoni Hills and its wild denizens. The craftily woven escapades of Mowgli the wolf child from the village of Sant Baori were based in the confines of Pench Forest. Lt. Moor of the British Army first noticed the naked boy and his strange association with the wolf pack. Kipling wrote the “Jungle Book” based on this phenomenon.
The characters of Jungle Book still survive in the Seoni Hills, part of which constitutes the Pench Tiger Reserve. The reserve is based in Madhya Pradesh and part of it lies in the Indian State of Maharashtra. Though the conservation history is recent, the forests find mention in “Ain E Akbari” penned during the Mughal Era.
The undulating terrain eventually leads to a greater height as one climbs up the Seoni Hills. The scenic spectacle is mesmerizing as the grandeur unfolds. The altitude varies from 425 to 675 mts. above MSL, comprising low-lying hills in the Satpura Range. The approach is picturesque assemblage of hills and valleys covered by extensive teak and mixed forests. The National Park is named after the Pench River, which intersects the reserve occupying almost 54 sq. km. of the forest as the backwaters of Totla Doh Dam and with many small rivulets, nullahs, ponds, water holes, springs and streams, well distributed throughout the forest, it provides succor to multitudes of life forms inhabiting this ecosystem.
Prominent Places of the Park
Turia Gate – entry point 2.2 km from ‘Tathastu’
Alikatta – the central hub and meeting point of the Park.
Piyorthadi – rocky area famous for leopard sightings.
Junewani Talao – a small picturesque pond.
Jamun Nala Area – mostly Grassland.
Chindimatta – junction of roads from Chindwara-Seoni-Maharashtra.
Sitaghat /Raiyakassa – for breathtaking view of the banks of river Pench and birding.
Kalapahad – highest point in the park. Wireless tower installed. Closed for tourists.
Bodha Nala – Lake and very pretty area
Baghin Nala – most famous for Tiger sightings in the past few seasons
Bijamatta – a pond with rocky terrain and hills nearby.
Karmajhari – Entry gate on other side of Seoni Range.
In 1977, declaration of 449.39 sq. km. as Pench Sanctuary, immediately checked the rampant exploitation of this area for timber, making it a suitable habitat for the Big Cats. Encouraged by this, the government in 1983 declared Pench as a National Park and in 1993 as the 19th Tiger Reserve of India. Comparatively, Pench is a younger forest, yet it carries a promise to be one of the best to ensure that the Indian National Animal will survive for generations to come!!
Pench exhibits tremendous diversity in terms of floral elements. The forests are tropical dry deciduous mix types with more than 1200 species recorded including several endangered and ethno-biologically important ones. The canopy constitutes of teak, saja, dhawa. lendia, bel, harra, salai, gunjan, bahera, jamun, arjun, char, kosum, tendu, aonla, bija, kullu (ghost tree), amaltas, and haldu. Innumerable number of shrubs and herbs constitute the ground story. There are patches of bamboo on the slopes intermixed with forests and grasslands.
Mammals – There are thirty nine species of mammals found at Pench. Tiger and Leopard are the tertiary carnivores that are placed at the top of the food pyramid. Other mega fauna that inhabits the park are gaur, sambar deer, nilgai, chital deer, barking deer, Indian gazelle, sloth bear, wild dog, four horned deer, Hanuman Langur, wolf, hyena, jackal, fox, hare, mongoose, rhesus macaque, wild boar and small nocturnal animals like civets, ratel, pangolin and porcupine.
Reptiles – There are 30 species of reptiles like Indian Cobra, Python, Red Sand Boa, Krait, Russell’s viper, Keel backs, Rat Snake and more.
Others – Thousands of insect species belonging to various genera inhabit the park. 45 Butterfly species like Mormon Princeps, Yellow Swallowtail, Common Tiger, Baronet, Crimson Rose, 54 Moth types, Dragonflies etc. are interesting subjects for scientific research.
Pench is rich in birdlife and cherished destination for birding in Central India. Due to ample water bodies, large numbers of migratory wetland birds arrive here. Some of the popular avian species are Malabar Pied Hornbill, Shama, Painted Francolin, Brahminy Duck, Bar headed Geese, Grey Francolin, Alexandrine Parakeet, Iora, Peacock, Indian Pitta, Large Egret, Great Cormorant, Jungle Bush Quail, Blue Breasted Quail, Barred Button Quail, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White Bellied Drongo, Changeable Hawk Eagle, White Eyed Buzzard, Plum Headed Parakeet, Black Lored Tit, Great Tit, Coppersmith Barbet, Brown Headed Barbet, Mottled Wood Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Spotted Owlet, Barred Jungle Owlet, Indian Scops Owl, Northern Pintail, Osprey, Shikra, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Red Jungle Fowl, Painted Spurfowl, Red Spurfowl, Lesser Whistling Teal, Shoveler, Crow Pheasant, Vultures and many more birds totaling to some 285 species .
Notified area of Pench National Park is a massive 1179 sq. km. with a core area of 411 sq.km and a equally beautiful buffer of 768 sq. km. The park is under the aegis of Project Tiger and hence also called a Tiger Reserve. The Project Tiger is a tiger conservation program initiated by the Central Government of India. The park lies in the districts of Seoni and Chindwara in the southern part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra side of Pench has an additional area 257sq. km and is accessible from MP also.
Tourism has increased since BBC released the film “Spy in The jungle” in 2008, a documentary narrated by Sir Davis Attenborough, that has beautifully captured behavior of the Tigers. Walt Disney Production ‘The Jungle Book” animation film was first to introduce Pench to the World.
The park is open from 16th October to 31st June presently and efforts are on to have it opened from 1st October from the coming season.
Longitude : 79007'45" E to 79022'30"
Latitude: 21037'N to 21050'30" E
Altitude : 425-675 Mt. Above MSL
Rainfall : 1397 mm