Panna BR is notified by the MoEF, GoI on August 25, 2011. It is the 3rd Biosphere Reserve of Madhya Pradesh. The area represents unique ecosystem within narrow belt of table top mountains of ‘Vindhyan Hill Ranges’ and part of ‘Bundelkhand’ region. This includes the traditional agro-ecosystems, dry deciduous forests of Teak, Salai, Kardhai, bamboo and mixed type of forests. It falls under bio-geographic zones of Deccan Peninsula 6 and covering the Biotic Province of Central highlands 6(A). However, it is nearer to confluence of Deccan Peninsula (Central Highlands) 6 (A), Upper Gangetic Plain 7 (A)) and Semi-Arid Gujrat Rajputana (4B). Therefore the area becomes unique, reflecting the influence of three bio-geographic regions. From agro-climatic zone point of view, it falls under Bundelkhand and Kymore plateau of Satpura hill ranges.
It lies between 240 21’ 8” to 240 59’ 3” latitude N and 790 38’ 6” to 800 29’ 15” longitudes E, falling under Panna & Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh. Out of the total area, 64.16% falls in Panna district & the remaining 35.84% in Chhatarpur. The BR includes, 3 Protected Areas (i.e., Panna National Park, Gangau & Ken-Gharial sanctuaries). The Panna BR consists of three well delineated zones, core (792.53 km2), buffer (989.20 km2) & transition zones (1219.25 km2).
The climate is basically semi arid to dry sub-humid. It is hot and dry for about seven months. The average annual rainfall is almost 1100 mm. However, it varies from 757 to 1885 mm at Panna and 493 to 1449 mm at Chhatarpur.
Panna BR area includes ecologically rich forest pockets of north, south forest divisions, and PAs of Panna district and forest division of Chhatarpur district. It is represented by forests, seasonal as well as aquatic and marshy vegetations. The forests include dry deciduous forest. However, based on vegetative composition, it may be further divided into six forest types viz., southern dry deciduous teak forest, northern dry deciduous mixed forest, dry deciduous scrub forest, Salai forest, dry bamboo forest and Kardhai forest. The seasonal vegetation has been categorized into rainy, winter and summer. The aquatic and marshy vegetation are in the form of free floating or attached forms with floating plant parts.
The area has rich biodiversity, as it provides an ideal habitat for excellent growth & propagation of large number of species. Base on available reports, publications, a total of 1255 species of lower & higher plant have been reported from the area. Amongst them 982 species belongs to angiosperm.
The Panna BR has a rich natural heritage with long history and tradition of wildlife conservation. The area is rich in wild animals- both by variety and by numbers. The area has been included in Tiger Reserves of India as it contains ‘tiger’ (now rehabilitated).
Panna Tiger Reserve is one of the most important PA in the north-central highlands of India, as it links the eastern and western population of wild animals through the NE-SW running Vindhyan ranges. The area has great potential to provide an ideal habitat and breeding ground for several wild animals. As many as 34 mammalian species have been reported in area of Panna BR. These habitats also suit at least 2 species of lesser cats viz., Siyah Gosh (Felis caracal) and Jungle cat (Felis chaus). Black buck (Antilope cervicapra), an endangered species, is also found in the southern part of the BR area. The area is also rich in avian fauna. A total of 281 species of birds reported in the area.
The villages of this BR have their own culture and tradition. The reserve is inhabited by tribes like Gond (Rajgond, Nandgond and Saurgond) and Khairuas and Yadavas (Dauvas). The economy of the people residing in Panna BR is mostly based on agriculture, cattle rearing, milk yield, etc. The BR area is also significant and popular for its archaeologist’s delight and tourist places. The area has Mesolithic rock/cave paintings at Vrihaspati Kunda and Barachh, of the prehistoric man as well as the best sculptural & architectural imprints of the Gupta period. A great defensive fort at Ajaigarh & the ruins of another fort at Rajgarh stand testimony to the historicity & grandeur of Panna’s past.
The geographical area of Panna BR is distributed in 2 districts covering 6 blocks, each district covering parts of 3 blocks. In totality, 303 villages (rural) & 3 urban agglomerations (i.e., Panna, Khajuraho and Ajaygarh) are located within the reserve.
In BR area excessive exploitation of natural resources, threat to gene pool, wild life and meadows\open glades are the major critical issue. While arrested succession due to noxious growth of unwanted weeds like lantana, Parthenium etc are the prominent issue of the BR. Threats to indigenous crops, vegetables & fruit bearing trees as well as unregulated use of chemical fertilizers & pesticides are the key concern in BR villages which require urgent measures to tackle. Similarly, the increasing incidence and evidences of fuel wood extraction, conflict of livestock and wildlife area in the forest area necessities immediate management interventions. Besides this, preparation of realistic schemes for providing pure and drinking water facility and better opportunities of employment and livelihood generation for the BR inhabitant will be added another key responsibility of the BR managers.