The Pench National Park & Tiger Reserve Maharashtra
The Pench Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) is a 292.85 km2 (113.07 sq mi) Project Tiger tiger reserve located in the Seoni District and Chhindwara District of southern Madhya Pradesh in central India.
It is contiguous on the south with the 257.23 km2 (99.32 sq mi) Pench Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra), both of which are included in the Level 1, 13,223 km2 (5,105 sq mi) Tiger Conservation Unit – 31 (Kanha-Pench TCU)
The Reserve gets its name from the Pench River that flows, north to south, 74 km through the reserve. The Pench River bisects the Pench reserve into two nearly equal parts; the 147.61 km² of the Western Block which falls in the Gumtara Range of the Chhindwara Forest Division and the 145.24 km² of the Eastern Block in the Karmajhiri Range of the Seoni Forest Division. See: Map 1.
The total area of the Reserve is 757.89 km² of which the Pench National Park, forming the core zone of the Reserve, covers 292.85 km², and the Mowgli Pench Wildlife Sanctuary is 118.30 km² in area. A Buffer Zone constituted by Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Revenue land, occupies 346.73 km².
The adjoining forests to the west and north-west of the Tiger Reserve come under the East Chhindwara and South Chhindwara Territorial Forest Divisions respectively. The Forest tract to the north and north east of the reserve comes under the South Seoni Territorial Forest Division.
Administratively, the Tiger Reserve is divided into three Forest Ranges; Karmajhiri, Gumtara, and Kurai, nine Forest Circles; Alikatta, Dudhgaon, Gumtara, Kamreet, Karmajhiri, Kurai, Murer, Rukhad, and Pulpuldoh, 42 Forest Beats, and 162 Forest Compartments. The NH 44 (old NH 7), runs between Nagpur and Jabalpur along the eastern boundary of the reserve for around 10 km.
This area was described as extremely rich and diverse in wildlife from the earliest records available on the 16th century Deogarh kingdom (Kumar 1989). The scenic beauty and the floral and faunal diversity of the Central Indian Highlands have been well documented by the British since the late 17th century, e.g. Forsyth’s (1919) “Highlands of Central India” (first published in 1871). Thereafter, Sterndale (1887) and Brander (1923) have added to the knowledge on the distribution of the flora, fauna and the local inhabitants of this tract. The popular fictional works of Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book also have their stories set around this region.
During the 17th Century the Gond rulers of this region cleared large tracts of forests for cultivation and dwellings. This onslaught continued up to 1818, through the rule by the Marathas and later under the British. It was not until 1862 that efforts were made to control the indiscriminate destruction and the forests were declared reserved (elaborated in Kumar 1989).
The Pench Sanctuary was created in September 1977, with an initial area of 449.39 km². The Pench National Park, recently renamed as Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, was created in 1983, carved out of the Sanctuary. The Tiger Reserve, 19th in the series, was formed under the Project Tiger scheme in November 1992.
It is notable that the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary and some adjacent protected areas will be merged with Pench Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra), as a ‘Satellite core area’, to more than double the area of that tiger reserve.
The Reserve lies in the southern lower reaches of the Satpura Range of hills on the southern border of Madhya Pradesh.
The general topography of Pench Tiger Reserve is mostly undulating, characterised by small ridges and hills having steep slopes, with a number of seasonal streams and nullahs carving the terrain into many folds and furrows, a result of the folding and upheavals of the past. The topography becomes flatter close to the Pench River. Most of the Tiger Reserve area falls under flat to gentle slope category.
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