Wildlife of Panna National Park
Panna National park acts as an important corridor for the NE-SW Vindhya ranges.
The show stopper of Panna National Park remains the Royal Bengal Tiger. Panna is also the habitat for predators like the leopard and the jungle cat and scavengers like the striped hyena. Jackals, sloth bear are also found in these forests. Herds of chinkara’s (mountain gazelle), solidatary barking deers as well as porcupines can easily be seen here. In this park, the nilgai ( Blue Bull ) in winters and sambar (in summer) are the most significant herbivores comprising the prey base. The chital is an important prey during the monsoons. Smaller species like the wild boar and Chousingha are also fairly common in the reserve. Dhole, wolf, Indian fox, mongoose, ratel and wild pigs are other species that you may come across in Panna. The caracal, a relative of the extinct cheetah, may be sighted here on very rare occasions.
Gharial and mugger crocodiles are found in the Ken river.
Additionally, there is a rich and diverse variety of birds in this park as in any other tiger reserve. Around 200 species of birds are found here, including winter migrants from the Himalayas and Central Asia. The Common Peafowl, also known as the peacock,India’s National Bird is frequently encountered in the park.
The park is situated in the Vindhyan Ranges of north-central Madhya Pradesh where the landscape is mildly undulating with hills ranging from 200 – 500 m. The park area is mainly plateau, with the flatlands punctuated with hills, deep valleys and gorges. The terrain is largely rocky and uneven covered with scrub and grass. The Talegaon plateau that lies to the east in the Panna range is the highest. At an intermediate altitude is the Hinouta plateau sandwiched between Panna and Madla at a lower altitude. The Madla range lies in a narrow stretch along the south bank of the Ken river.
The region mainly has mixed dry deciduous forests with short grasses and open woods. Lower altitudes are characterised by taller grasses and closed woodlands. Anogeissus pendula ( locally known as Dhuara ) and Acacia catechu ( locally known as Katha ) are the dominant species occurring on the steep, dry slopes of the plateau. Teak trees are also found in plenty in the dry areas. These areas have scanty grasses. Other tree species include Diospyros melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchannia latifolia, Lannea coromandelica and Boswelia serrata. The common bamboo also occurs in bundance on hilly slopes and gorges. Fruit trees like amla, tendu, achar, ben and ghont are also found in the park in areas with thick undergrowth. Shrubs like Lantana camara, Grevia spp., Nyctanthus arbortristis, Ixora spp., Zizyphus mauritiana etc. grow on the rocky terrain. Grasses are widespread, and the different varieties like Apluda mutica, Themeda quadrivalvis, Hetropogon contortus, Aristida spp. Eragrostis spp. remain till the end of winter, especially on the plateaux, notably in the Hinouta Range. The district of Panna is the northernmost part of the country where teak trees occur. It also signifies the eastern limits of teak-kardhai trees in India.
The reserve has dry and short grass habitat with extensive open woodlands. Along the major seasonal streams and in the Ken river valley, lush vegetation can be seen. The tree species Acacia catachu dominates the dry steep slopes of the plateaus here. These habitats make for a heterogeneous landscape.