Madhya Pradesh

Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi ©Aseem Kumar Kothiala Website
Birding Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh has a varied topography but almost one third is forested. The forest types include dry thorn forests; tropical moist deciduous forests and tropical evergreen forests. The area of reserve [reserved for eventual logging] forest is 58,733 km; protected forest constitutes an area of about 35,586 sq km and unclassified forest area is around 900 sq km. There is no doubt that the natural splendour of Madhya Pradesh includes a wide spectrum of wildlife inhabiting this land ranging from tigers and leopards to antelopes and gazelles, other mammals and reptiles and an abundance of bird life.

Of the two bio-geographic zones, the semi arid zone has two subdivisions – Malwa plateau and fragmented wetlands. Madhav National Park and about 9 of the total of 25 wildlife sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh are located in this zone. The second zone, the Deccan Peninsula includes both the Vindhya and the Satpura hill ranges. Popular tiger reserves like Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Satpura, Panna, the three National Parks and a score of wildlife sanctuaries are located in this zone. Madhya Pradesh has an effective protected area network of about 10,860 sq km and boasts of one national park and 25 sanctuaries. These reserves continue to harbour their original resident and migrant species.

The mission of national parks and sanctuaries is to establish a network of protected areas representative of the country’s important and unique features and to conserve and manage them in such a manner that they will be preserved for all time in their natural state. The wild life conservation initiatives launched by the state have received a major impetus by the inclusion of forest dwellers to ensure the survival of forests and wildlife embodied in the launch of the Project Tiger in the early seventies. The application of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), formation of the Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation to secure help and support from NGO’s and general public at large, conservation of critically endangered species besides the tiger [like Barasingha (swamp deer) and Gharial (mugger crocodile)] are some of the major landmarks in the state of Madhya Pradesh’s success in wildlife conservation.

Project Tiger The forests were nurtured carefully by the royal families to preserve the Tiger’s habitats for hunting. Old wildlife classics estimate a population of around 40,000 tigers in the 1940’s. By the year 1970, the population of tigers in India perilously declined to about 2000 individuals as the result of the loss of hunting preserves and widespread habitat destruction. The tiger was close to being annihilated. Project Tiger was launched in 1973 because of the threat to the tiger. The objective was to ensure the maintenance of a viable population of the tiger in India and to preserve for all times, such areas as part of our national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of future generations, which had the added bonus opf preserving many areas for other wildlife too. The Project Tiger Directorate provides assistance for scientific management, protection, communication, habitat improvement, water and soil conservation, research, infrastructure etc. Kanha in Mandhya Pradesh was among the first nine reserves designated. Panna, Bandhavgarh, Pench and Pachmarhi are later inclusions. 1999 estimates are of a population of 709 tigers (235 in tiger reserves, 143 in protected areas and 331 tigers in general forest areas) in Madhya Pradesh (19% of India’s and 17% of World’s tiger population). The state, therefore, is rightly called the Tiger State.

Flora and Fauna. The state of Madhya Pradesh encompasses a breath-taking wilderness along with extensive flora and fauna and rich biodiversity. There are countless variety of plants and animals in a state of interdependence. There are more than 1000 species of flowering plants, ferns, orchids, aromatic and medicinal plants. More than half of the forests of the state lie in the eastern region and are tropical. Teak and Sal are the two chief species of trees found in the state and constitute about 20% of the total forest area. Tendu leaf tree found in abundance in Madhya Pradesh is also a good source of income for villagers. The grasslands along the plateaux and the streams in the valleys are good during the monsoon season but fade away during the hot months of summer.

The faunal wealth of the Madhya Pradesh is equally rich and diverse. Inhabitants include species of cat, antelopes, gazelles and dog family, many other species of mammals and reptiles as well as birds. Crocodiles and gharyal inhabit the rivers and lakes. The heavily forested regions and marshes and wetlands create a natural habitat for birds and support a wide variety of birdlife.Some of the best parks and reserves are described below.

Top Sites
  • Bandhavgarh National Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Once the personal hunting ground of the Maharajas of Rewa, Bandhavgarh is famous as the original home of the white tiger. It became a national park in 1965. The national park covers an area of 1161.47 sq km with a core area of 624.75 sq km dominated by extremely rugged terrain with many hills. The adjoining Panpatha wildlife sanctuary created in 1983 has an area of245.84 sq kill. The park is located in the eastern Satpura hill range of Umaria and Katni districts among the outlying hills of the Vindhya range. Many hills and hillocks dot the area amidst valleys, meadows and marshes. There are a number of old tanks, water holes to provide for water sources and Charanganga river is the prominent river flowing through the park. With tropical dry and moist deciduous forests interspersed with grasslands, the vegetation is chiefly of sal forest in the valleys and on the lower slopes with bamboo found in abundance almost throughout. Bandhavgarh has an abundance of tigers and other wildlife species. The reserve is rich in birds, some 250 species are found in the park. The Tala range rich in water and food resources harbours most of the wildlife. The main entry to the park is through Tala, 35 km north of Umaria. Nearest rail heads are Jabalpur (170 km), Katni (102 kill) and Satna (112 kill) on the central railway and Umaria (35 km) on the Katni Bilaspur route. From the Umaria railway station it is an hour`s drive to Tala. State, private transport buses and taxis ply between Katni and Umaria, and from Satna and Rewa to Tala. Khajuraho (210 km) is the nearest airport from where it is a 5 hours drive to Bandhavgarh. The ideal time to visit would be the period between November & June. The park is closed from July to October inclusive. Jeep safaris are available from dawn until about 1000 and from 1600 hours until dark, when the animals are most active. A forest department guide accompanies the visitors. Elephants are also used by the forest department for tiger tracking. The sprawling meadows of Chakradhara, Bhaitari Bah, Raj Bahera, Sehra are rich in avifauna.
  • Kanha Tiger Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Kanha Tiger Reserve, also called Kanha National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh, state in the heart of India.
  • NP Van Vihar

    InformationSatellite View
    It is located in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. Declared a national park in 1979, it covers an area of about 4.45 km2. Although it has the status of a national park, Van Vihar is developed and managed as a modern zoological park, following the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority. The animals are kept in their near natural habitat. The wilderness of park offers an ideal habitat for a number of avian fauna. Till now about two hundred species of birds have been listed in different parts of Van Vihar. Large number of birds frequent this park, especially during winter the migratory waterfowl alight in great numbers in the adjoining extensive wetland of big lake. In the 2010s, the park developed a vulture breeding centre which initially focused on restoring populations of Oriental white-backed vultures (Gyps bengalensis), and long billed vultures (Gyps indicus).
  • Panna Tiger Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Located in the north central part of Madhya Pradesh, the park is spread over an area of 66,640 sq km within the districts of Panna and Chhatarpur. Panna National Park was constituted in 1981 and declared a tiger reserve in 1994 and has an area of 542.69 sq km, Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary 8,753 sq km and Ken Gharial wildlife sanctuary at a distance of about 30 km from Panna national park, an area of 4,520 sq km. The main forest types are southern tropical dry teak forest and northern tropical dry deciduous mixed forest and the reserve is rich in fodder grasses. The lifeline of the park is the Ken River which meanders for about 55 km through the tiger reserve from south to north. Springs and gorges along the course of Ken River offer magnificent sights. Springs (locally called jhirias) are the major water sources available during the months of summer. Regular sightings of Tiger are reported [population is c.32]. Leopard is more common. More than 200 species of birds including a host of migratory birds have been sighted in the park, including Paradise Flycatcher, Indian Pond Heron, Quail, Parakeets, Mynas, Bulbuls, Cuckoos, etc. Khajuraho, the nearest airport is just 25 km from Panna. Satna (70 km) is the nearest railhead for those travelling from Delhi. Varanasi and Kolkata, Katni (130 km) for those travelling from Mumbai, Nagpur and Chennai and Jhansi (194 km) for those travelling from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Madia and Hinouta are the two entry gates to the park, The park is closed between July & September inclusive, the best time to visit is between December to March. Only four wheel drive petrol vehicles are allowed to watch wildlife and to go around the tiger reserve.
  • Pench Tiger Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Named after the river Pench, the Pench Tiger Reserve is located in the southern reaches of the Satpura hill ranges and was constituted in 1992 with a total area of 75,790 sq km out of which 29,286 sq km is the core area of the reserve, 11,830 sq km of Pench wildlife sanctuary and 3,467 sq km of area is the buffer zone. The river Pench meandering through the park divides it between Chhindwara and Seoni districts. The forest cover belongs to southern tropical moist teak and dry teak forests and the southern dry mixed deciduous forest. The ground is covered with a maze of grasses, plants, bushes and saplings. Bamboo is restricted to some valleys, dazzling white kulu (sterculia urens) trees scattered around singly in the forest stand out conspicuously among the various hues of green. The flow of the Pench river stops by December. But a number of water pools serve as water holes for the wild animals. There are a few perennial springs and tanks in this tract. At the southern border of the park at Totladoh, a dam has been constructed on the Pench river which creates a huge 54 sq km reservoir in this part of the park. The Pench Tiger Reserve is 12 km away from Khawasa town on NH 7 between N agpur and Jabalpur. Nagpur is the nearest rail head and airport. Khawasa is just 80 km from Nagpur on NH 7. Jabalpur is 203 km from the park. It is en route to Kanha from Nagpur. The population of tigers is estimated at 40 individuals. Pench boasts of more than 250 species of birds including several migratory ones. Visitors can use their own or hired 4 wheel petrol vehicles. Diesel vehicles and walking on road is not permitted inside the park. Totaladoh Dam, the highest hills in the park, Kalapahad, the place to see a large bison herd, Bison Camp (10 km from Karmajhiri), the Bison Retreat (close to Rukhad) and the watchtowers of Raikassa and Golpahari are the sites which promise a different experience.
  • Satpura National Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Satpura National Park is cradled in the rugged hills of the Satpura range in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The national park is spread over an area of 142,787 sq km together with the wildlife sanctuaries of Pachmarhi and Bori. Rich in biocultural diversity, the park was established in 1981 and harbours some of the most critically endangered animal and plant species. The terrain is generally hilly with precipitous slopes, deep and narrow gorges ravines sheltered valleys and dense forests with many water falls. Tawa reservoir created on the Tawa River extending over an area of 200 sq km is the main water source along with channels of Soubhadra, Nalni, Denwa and Wagdwari rivers. The area is uniquely diverse ranging from dry thorn forest to tropical dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi evergreen forests. Teak, sal and mixed forest are the major compositions. The Bori wildlife sanctuary is rich in Bamboo. Over 1200 varieties of flowering and non flowering plants are found in this area. The Tiger is found in good number but is confined to dense forest areas. 35 tigers were recorded in 2001 census. Panthers are found all over the park. The area has a wide spectrum of bird life. Among the birds represented are Jungle Fowl, Quail, Patridges, Bee-eaters, Eagles, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Vultures etc. One is also attracted by a large variety of colourful butterflies, moths and other insects. Madai, Churna, Bori, Dhal and Paraspani are some of the areas of viewing wildlife. The national park is easily accessible by road from Bhopal (210 km), Jabalpur (240 kill), Nagpur (250 kill) and Chhindwara (85 kill). Pipariya (52 km) is the closest railhead and ltarsi is the closest rail junction. Pachmarhi is the closest bus stand and the gateway to this reserve. The best time to visit the park is between November & June. Most of the roads in the park are only passable from December. The park is closed during the monsoon season. Also see:
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 572

    (As at December 2018)

    State Bird - Indian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi

Useful Reading

  • Birds of Madhya Pradesh

    | By Satish Pande, Niranjant Sant, Kailash Chandra, Pramod Deshpande & Narmada P Shukla | Ela Foundation | 2009 | Paperback | 234 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9788190695527 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • State Bird: Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Bandhavgarh

    InformationSatellite View
    The Bandhavgarh National Park is located within the district of Sahdol in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This forest nestled among the Vindhya hills came into existence in 1968 when the Maharaja of Rewa handed over the area to the government for it's formation. At the time when it was handed over to the government, the fauna was not faring too well due to the difficulty in the control of poaching. Once this became a protected area, the animal population took a drastic turn and began to flourish.
  • NP Kanha

    InformationSatellite View
    Kanha has a huge variety of birds for birdwatchers to see. Over 300 different species have been reported here. Some of the more interesting ones for bird lovers to look out for are Pied or Marsh Harriers, Red Jungle Fowls, Painted Spur Fowls, Lesser Whistling Teals, Common Teals, Pintails, Cotton Teals, Shovelers, Peafowls, Indian Rollers, Racket Tailed Drongos, Red Wattled Lapwings, Brown Fish Owls, Nightjars, Laggers, Shaheen Falcons, Kestrels, Barn Owls, White Eyed Buzzards, Black Winged Kites, Shikras, Crested Serpent Eagles, Crested Honey Buzzards, Yellow Wattled Lapwings, Green Bee-eaters, Doves, Black Vultures, Scavenger Vultures, Long Billed Vultures, White backed Vultures, gray Hornbills, Tree Pies, Mynahs, Munias, Bushchats, Warblers, Flycatchers, Babblers, Woodpeckers, Black Headed Orioles, Golden Orioles, Paradise Flycatchers, Pied Malabar Hornbills, Indian Pittas, Indian Stone Curlews, Common Gray Partridges, Painted Partridges, Green Pigeons, Black Ibis, White Necked Storks, Lesser Adjutant Storks, White breasted Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers, Egrets and Cormorants.
  • NP Madhav

    InformationSatellite View
    Madhav National Park is equally rich in avifauna. The artificial lake, Chandpatha, is the winter home of migratory geese, pochard, pintail, teal, mallard and gadwall. A good site for bird watching is where the forest track crosses the rocky stream that flows from the waste weir. Species that frequent this spot are red-wattled lapwing, large pied wagtail, Indian pond heron and white-breasted kingfisher. The park's avifauna also includes the cormorant, painted stork, white ibis, laggar falcon, purple sunbird, Asian paradise flycatcher and golden oriole…
  • NP Pench

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Pench National park, nestling in the lower southern reaches of the satpuda hills is named after Pench river, meandering through the park from north to south. It is located on the southern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Maharashtra, in the districts of Seoni and Chhindwara.Pench National Park, comprising of 758 SQ Kms, out of which a core area of 299 sq km is the national park and and remaining 464 sq km is the buffer area.
  • NP TR Panna

    InformationSatellite View
    It is notable that by 2009, the entire tiger population had been eliminated by poaching with the collusion of forest department officials! Panna National Park and the surrounding territorial forest area of North and South Panna forest division is the only large chunk of wildlife habitat remaining in North Madhya Pradesh in the otherwise fragmented forest landscape of the region. The park is home to more than 200 species of birds including the bar-headed goose, honey buzzard, king vulture, blossom-headed parakeet, changeable hawk-eagle and Indian vulture.
  • NP TR Satpura

    InformationSatellite View
    The terrain of the national park is extremely rugged and consists of sandstone peaks, narrow gorges, ravines and dense forests. The altitude ranges from 300 to 1,352 metres (984 to 4,436 ft). It has Dhoopgarh peak as high as 1,350 metres (4,430 ft) and the almost level plains of Churna. Satpura National Park is rich in biodiversity. he fauna of Satpura National Park is a stunning jungle treat for wildlife enthusiasts as we can find about 50 species of mammals, 254 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 50 species of butterflies here. Beautiful birds species including Malabar whistling Thrush, Paradise Fly-catcher, Honey Buzzard, Malabar pied Hornbill etc. are present in large numbers.
  • WS Bori

    InformationSatellite View
    The sanctuary covers an area of 518 km2 (200 sq mi), located in the northern foothills of the Satpura Range. It is bounded by the Satpura National Park to the north and east, and by the Tawa River to the west. The sanctuary, together with Satpura National Park and the Pachmarhi Sanctuary, forms the Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve.
  • WS Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    Ghatigaon Sanctuary (also known as the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary) is a wildlife sanctuary situated near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, India. The sanctuary has a significant population of the great Indian bustard.
  • WS Kuno

    InformationSatellite View
    Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary has been shortlisted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in India and is proposed as one of the sites for the reintroduction of the species in India.[19][20][21] Asiatic cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) that used to occur here are now locally extinct in India and elsewhere, except a very small critically endangered and fragmented population of last few, estimated to be below 100, thought to be surviving only in the central desert of Iran.
  • WS National Chambal Gharial

    InformationSatellite View
    The large area of National Chambal park is shared by the three states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This sanctuary is famous for the rare gangetic dolphin.
  • WS Veerangana Durgavati

    InformationSatellite View
    The sanctuary is home to 177 species of birds., covering an area of only 24 sq km.
  • WS karera

    InformationSatellite View
    The bustard, locally known as son chidiya or the golden bird and the blackbuck are the two important faunal species at the park, although bustards have not been spotted here since 1994. The Dihaliya lake within the park hosts migratory birds and the initial approval for denotification of the sanctuary required the establishment of a sanctuary consisting of the lake and the government land around it. 245 migrant species of avifauna including pintails, terns, spoonbills and teals have been recorded at Karera.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Anytime Tours

    e.g. Corbett National Park, Pangot (Nainital), Sat Tal, Chambal, Bharatpur, Ranthambhor NP - This tour is designed for fast pace birding in northern region of India. This has proven to be an extremely productive tour. This tour can be customized. Best time: November to April…
Trip Reports
  • 2011 [04 April] - Kathie Claydon

    We had a total of 445 bird species in the North East (more were seen or heard only by our guide Abid but have not been included) and 21 mammals and plenty of plants, insects and a few reptiles. Then a (separate) total of 151 bird and 15 mammal species in Bharatpur/Chambal/Ranthambhore. The whole trip produced 511 bird and 31 mammals species…
  • 2015 [04 April] - Nick Crouch - Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Agra & Delhi

    PDF Report
    Whilst not caring what birds I saw as long as I saw a Tiger, I did of course want to see as many birdsas possible... Having been to Goa in 2007, I had also seen many of the available species before, butstill had plenty to go it; in the end, I saw 163 species, of which 37 were new for me. I didn’t take ascope (instead taking my DSLR), and most of the time didn’t miss it – although it would have beenuseful for distant waders at Okhla Bird Sanctuary, and raptors and pipits in Bandhavgarh.
Places to Stay
  • Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge

    A two-star property recognized by Deptt. of Tourism, BANDHAVGARH JUNGLE LODGE is walking distance form the Park
  • Chitvan Jungle Lodge

    Facebook Page
    Chitvan is the most discreet of the Jungle and Safari Lodges in India. It blends into the surrounding landscape, while providing a stunning viewpoint for observing the area's wealth of Wildlife. Chitvan blends perfectly with the surrounding countryside. The surrounding hills are wooded, and the open grassland in front is interspersed with some Sal trees, whistling thorns, and some scrub. You will be captivated by this unspoiled corner of Kanha National Park, spread in about 14 acres of land…
  • Kanha Jungle Lodge

    Kanha Jungle Lodge is just a short walk from Kanha National Park, Mukki entrance gate. It provides visitors with a truly exciting and rewarding jungle experience. The lodge nests in an 11 acre estate of thick mature Sal forest providing a ideal setting for bird watching for a natural history oriented traveller
  • Ken River Lodge - Panna National Park

    Ken River Lodge is 2km from Panna National Park. Swiss cottage tents with attached toilets and showers give you all the modern amenities along with the thrill of staying in a tent. There are 10 tents
  • Panna Tiger Resort

    The Panna Tiger Resort has eight cottages & four tented accommodations. Each cottage has an attached western style toilet and a hot shower. The resort is located right next to river Ken.
  • Pench Jungle Camp

    The Pench Jungle Camp, nestling among 12 acres of lush foliage, sprawling lawns, and untouched landscape is a perfect getaway for nature lovers! It is aptly named as a Jungle Camp.... that provides an unqualified jungle experience! Although the resort is unparalleled in its luxury and comforts. The Resort accommodation comprises of 13 Deluxe Air conditioned Safari tents, 3 Deluxe Air- Conditioned cottages, 4 Premier Air-Conditioned Rooms and a spacious family suite. We have a pool villa coming up very soon.

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Skip to content