Tiger Tourism Kanha - Changing Dynamics
I first visited Kanha National Park in MP in 1976 it was an introductory visit that turned me into a naturalist. I had never experienced such serenity and beauty in my life. The picturesque settings of this exotic terrain slowly became familiar as more visits took place. Subsequently Kanha was much on my yearly itinerary in spite of low finances. The easy reach from Jabalpur facilitated visits to this magnificent reserve.
With acquired knowledge base after several visits, I eventually started working as a freelance naturalists. The job helped sharpen my knowledge base in terms of tiger tracking and birding. The enthusiasm and love for nature made my naturalist job as a source of secondary income however meager.
During the seventies Kanha was in the state of repair. After years of pressure the creation of protected area provided a much needed reprieve for this beleaguered land of the tiger. Albeit Kanha was fortunate in receiving protection much before the concept of PA came into picture. Today it is also under the aegis of Project Tiger Program - a Central Government of India initiative.
The tourism was scarce in the seventies and eighties and very few tourists arrived. The accommodation available was in form of rest houses in Kanha and Kisli. We traveled in large family group and occupied the Kisli rest house which badly need repairs. There was no cooking facility in those days and our staff used to cook under a Sal tree. Kanha Rest House was for the more privileged and later on private canteen came into the picture.
Most of the villages had not been shifted in 1976 as one was right near Kisli Rest House. The excursions were allowed in private vehicles and you could take any. In the heat of the moment tourists could literally walk right up to the elephant for a tiger show.
On some instances night safari was also allowed in the early days. But all this had begun to change slowly. The management began to induct new rules and regulations for tiger safari. All these steps were necessary for the betterment of the park and specifically the wildlife. Today Kanha Tiger Reserve is one of the finest conservation unit in the World.
At that time there one to one conversion with the staff who were thrilled to be with the guests. Even the top management came to welcome you some times.
The first hotel to open was the Chandan Motel owned by Kissu Chacha a Sindhi business men from Mandla. His foresight did not go unhindered as Bob Wright and eminent Anglo Indian opened a wildlife resort called the Kipling Camp. The accommodation attracted lots of celebrities and the top notch because of Bob's reputation.
Kipling Camp now a modern wildlife resort pioneered tiger tourism at Kanha. Krishna Jungle Resort was set up during that period and became the most successful resort ever in Kanha. Owned by Mr.Neelesh Agrawal from Jabalpur, it gave major thrust to tourism with more organized approach. This was followed by Mr.Sunny Chadha's Tiger Land Resort. He is an old hotelier with hospitality business in his blood. Both the properties have now changed hands.
With continuous management inputs tiger tourism has evolved into what it is now. A more disciplined and wildlife friendly tourism for sure. At the present juncture there is a glut of hotels in this park. In the recent times the periphery has become urbanized with lot of construction activities. The hotel industry and tourism combined has been instrumental in offering employment to the local communities.
From a free for all situation the regulations have limited the number of vehicles in the park. Access is allowed only to registered vehicles with trained drivers. The tourism area has been divided into zones to minimize the impact of vehicles and people. One very positive aspect of tourism has been opening up of the buffer. Now safaris are also conducted in the buffer zone hitherto neglected.
In the ensuing years the ecosystem has become intact and the canopy has become denser too. Wildlife including tigers has become more prominent with increase in population of all animals. Any apparent negative impact of tourism has not been noticed in the critical tiger habitat. But the establishment of hotel resorts and other urban structures has caused loss of habitat in the buffer zone. The burgeoning village population as well as live stock is a major cause of conflict with wild animals.
The excursion cost and accommodation has skyrocketed with a charge being levied by the management and State Government of Madhya Pradesh. The tariff of luxury accommodation in Kanha
has also risen high. At the National Park A number of 3 star resorts have been established to cater to the tourists.
MP Tourism manages a dormitory and a luxury resort inside the park. With offices in many places this is the best resource to find a stay in the park. The forest department also maintains clean cottages at Khatia Gate available for rent at affordable rates.
Kanha National Park
The Conservator and Field Director
Kanha Tiger Reserve
Mandla, Madhya Pradesh - 481 661
Tel 07642 - 250760 Fax 07642 - 251266
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regional Manager
Railway Station Building
Tel. 0761-322111, 321490
The phone numbers may have changed.
In order to book the gate entry which is a prerequisite one needs to visit the MP online website. This job could well be given o your hotel guys. Remember you need photo ID detail at time of booking which you have to carry alongside during the excursions. For inbound travelers it is a must to carry the original passport.