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Pench Tiger Sanctuary

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Pench National Park is in fact two parks with the same name in the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, also combined with the Pench Wildlife Sanctuary. The total area of the three reserves extends to approximately 1000 Pench became a sanctuary in 1977, a National Park in 1983 and came under the Project Tiger umbrella in 1992.

The park takes its name from the Pench River that cuts through it from North to South and forms the boundary between southern Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Although after the monsoon this is a large river its flow is much reduced following the winter months. The sandy river bed then becomes a pathway for much of the resident wildlife moving between the remaining pools.

Pench lies at the foot of the Satpura range and varies between undulating terrain with small hills, open grass meadows and dense forests; primarily teak. The park has been attracting increasing interest due to a growing tiger population, supported by a healthy gain in ungulate numbers following increased protection of the habitat. There are many other notable residents, including sloth bear, gaur, Nilgai, wild dog, chausingha, leopard and lesser cats, jackals, rhesus macaque and flying squirrels.

Under the Indian Ecodevelopment Project, started in Pench in 1996, work is ongoing with around a hundred neighbouring villages to minimise their dependence on the project area and to help protect the habitat. A prime area of the park at the southern boundary was flooded for a hydroelectric scheme, but the loss of forest has to some extent been compensated for by the number of migratory birds that are attracted to the reservoir.

Approximately 250 bird species are listed in the park, including winter migrants. Of particular interest are Grey and Malabar Pied Hornbills, Eurasian Thick Knee, White-naped Woodpecker and Oriental Honey Buzzard. Wildlife viewing is by jeep, with short elephant safaris to view previously tracked tigers. It can be possible to climb a 'machan', or observation tower, to wait in the forest quietly looking out for passing mammals and birds.

The park is open from 1st October to 30th June and although accommodation is limited there are some good choices, including a tented camp. The lack of a larger number of lodges, and therefore other visitors, only adds to the charm of visiting this park. Pench is approximately two hours by road from Nagpur, which is linked by air or rail with Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta, there are also overnight trains to Chennai. Pench lies very much en route to Kanha.







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