Exploring Kuno National Park
Central India’s state, Madhya Pradesh is a great place to live and visit because of the range of habitats it has, meaning such diverse examples of nature can be found. From dense forests, wetlands, dry grasslands, and thorny sparse forests there is such a huge range of species of birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, plants and such that it might take a few visits to see everything! But one of the highlights is certainly the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary also known as the Kuno National Park in the north district of Sheopur. While the tiger reserves are a big and important part of Madhya Pradesh there is a lot more to explore. It is also a place where the Asiatic Lion is in conservation and most recently the Cheetah too!
About the park
Kuno National Park is around 343m above sea level and has 748 sq.km as the main park with another 500 sq.km as a border area. It was declared a national park just 4 years ago but is still often referred to as a wildlife sanctuary. Its name comes from the river that flows from the south of the park to the north, which basically divides the park into two sections. There are small grassland patches within the park as well as having trees, these areas are where old villages once were that were relocated when the park became a protected area. Those lush grasslands are what make the space a great habitat for big cats.
The park is not just a place where endangered and at-risk creatures like the big cats can thrive. It is a place rich in flora as well as fauna. Over 129 types of trees grow there as well as multiple short and tall grass species. That is along with other animals such as the Sloth bear, the Indian leopard, the Spotted Deer, the Striped Hyena, the Blackbuck, the Golden Jackal, the Nilgai and the Sambhar.
Leopards and Tigers
Kuno wildlife sanctuary and the park is a corridor between the Madhav National Park and the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve and as a result, sometimes has tigers present. Leopards are also found there, in fact, this is the most successful park for leopards with the most per sq.km in India. They are specifically found along Kuno River near the old fort. These are shy animals and they are nocturnal so it takes some commitment to see them.
A great place to visit for bird enthusiasts
Kuno National Park is also a place where a lot of bird enthusiasts like to come with more than 200 species to find and enjoy. It is one of the few places you can find some of the most threatened species of vulture in India such as the White-rumped, the Red-headed, the Egyptian, the Indian and the Eurasian Griffon when it migrates there. You can find them along the sides of the cliffs in the park and in the winter season is when they roost. Winter is also a good time to spot one of the multiple raptors like the harriers.
If you want to look for some ground-nesting birds you can find species such as the spurfowls, francolins, sandgrouses, quails, pheasants and buttonquails in the rich grasslands. Along the Kuno River, you can find threatened species like the River Lapwing, River tern or lesser adjutant stork. When the water recedes after the rainy season those flood plains become very biodiverse. In the winter you might see large numbers of shanks, sandpipers and wagtails.
Other things to enjoy
Other things to spot along the river are crocodiles, Gharial, and various reptiles like Indian rock pythons, other snakes and lizards. A lot of butterflies thrive as well as damselflies and dragonflies.