Tiger Reserve comprises the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park,
the Mowgli Pench Sanctuary and a buffer. The Park nestles in the
Southern slopes of the Satpura ranges of Central India. The river Pench,
which splits the National Park into two, forms the lifeline of the Park.
The area of the present
tiger reserve has a glorious history. A description of its natural
wealth and richness occurs in Ain-i-Akbari. Several natural history
books like R. A. Strendale's 'Seonee - Camp life in Satpura Hills,'
Forsyth's 'Highlands of Central India' and Dunbar Brander's 'Wild
Animals of Central India' explicitly present the detailed panorama of
nature's abundance in this tract. Strendale's semi-autobiographical 'Seonee'
was the inspiration behind Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
Land of the 'The Jungle Book'
The Pench Tiger Reserve and its neighbourhood is the original setting of
Rudyard Kipling's most famous work, The Jungle Book. Kipling borrowed
heavily from Robert Armitage Strendale's books 'Seonee', 'Mammalia of
India and Ceylon' and 'Denizens of the Jungle' for the topography,
wildlife, and its ways. Mowgli was inspired by Sir William Henry
Sleeman's pamphlet, 'An Account of Wolves Nurturing Children in Their
Dens' which describes a wolf-boy captured in Seoni district near the
village of Sant Baori in 1831. Many of The Jungle Book's locations are
actual locations in Seoni District, like the Waingunga river with its
gorge where Sherkhan was killed, Kanhiwara villlage and the 'Seeonee
The terrain of the park is undulating with mainly gentle slopes criss-crossed
by streams and nullahs. Most of these water courses are seasonal. Many
of the hills are flat-topped and allow fine vistas of the forests
around. The best known of these is 'Kalapahar' with an altitude of 650
mts. The Pench river flowing through the centre of the Reserve is dry by
April but a number of water pools locally known as 'dohs' are found,
which serve as waterholes for wild animals. A few perennial springs also
exist. Recently a number of earthen ponds and shallow wells have been
developed leading to well distributed sources of water all around the
In the year 1977 an area of 449.39 sq km was declared Pench Sanctuary.
Out of this, an area of 292.85 sq km was declared Pench National Park in
the year 1983 and 118.31 sq km remained as Pench Sanctuary. In 1992
Government of India declared 757.89 sq km area including the National
Park and the sanctuary as the 19th Tiger Reserve of the country. The
name of Pench National Park was changed to "Indira Priyadarshini Pench
National Park" in November 2002 Similarly the name of Pench Sanctuary
has been changed to "Mowgli Pench Sanctuary".
The Pench hydroelectric
dam straddles the Maharashtra - Madhya Pradesh boundary. The dam,
constructed between 1973 and 1988 has resulted in the submergence of
about 74 sq km area out of which 54 km is in the Park, the rest being in
Forests and Wildlife
The undulating topography supports a mosaic of vegetation ranging from
moist, sheltered valleys to open, dry deciduous forest. Over 1200
species of plants have been recorded from the area including several
rare and endangered plants as well as plants of ethno-botanical
The area has always been
rich in wildlife. It is dominated by fairly open canopy, mixed forests
with considerable shrub cover and open grassy patches. The high habitat
heterogeneity favours high population of Chital and Sambar. Pench tiger
reserve has highest density of herbivores in India (90.3 animals per sq
The area is especially
famous for large herds of Gaur (Indian Bison), Cheetal, Sambar, Nilgai,
Wild Dog and Wild Pig. The key predator is the Tiger followed by
Leopard, Wild Dog and Wolf. Other animals include Sloth Bear,
Chousingha, Chinkara, Barking Deer, Jackal, Fox, Palm Civet, Small
Indian Civet, Jungle Cat, Hyena, Porcupine etc.
There are over 285
species of resident and migratory birds including the Malabar Pied
Hornbill, Indian Pitta, Osprey, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, White-eyed
Buzzard, etc. In winter thousands of migratory waterfowl including
Brahmini Duck, Pochards, Barheaded Geese, Coots, etc visit the tanks and
the Pench reservoir within the Park.
Pench Tiger Reserve is
also among the best areas for bird watching. Four species of the now
endangered vultures white-rumped, longbilled, white scavenger and king
vulture can be seen in good numbers in the Reserve. The other fauna
present include 50 species of fishes, 10 amphibians, 30 reptiles, 45
butterflies, 54 moths and numerous other insects.
Remember Mowgli, the
pint-sized 'Man-Child' or Bagheera, the Black Panther? And who can
forget the inimitable Sher Khan, the villain of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle
Kipling was inspired to
write his memorable book by the luxuriant forest cover of Pench teeming
with an astonishing variety of wildlife.