Panna, located in the Vindhyan Range, sprawls over Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the northern part of the Madhya Pradesh. The district makes the northern most boundary of natural distribution of teak and the eastern limits of teak-kardhai mixed forests, which is one of the most significant ecological aspects of the Reserve. River Ken flows through the reserve from south to north and is natural habitat for long snouted crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (maggar) and other aquatic fauna.
Panna Tiger Reserve is the most important PA in the north-central highlands of India, as it links the eastern and western populations of wild animals through the NE-SW running Vindhyan ranges.
The terrain of the Reserve is replete with extensive plateaus and gorges. The upper Talgaon Plateau, the middle Hinouta Plateau and the Ken valley, form three major tableland in the district.
The Reserve’s most undisturbed habitat of about 70-80 sq. km. lies on the Hinouta plateau. Extensive dry and short grass habitat with open woodland supports Blue Bull (nilgai) and chinkara. The areas which have tall grasses support good densities of sambar and chital. Acacia catachu dominate steep slopes of plateaus.
Panna National Reserve, created in 1981, was declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1994, 22nd in the country and fifth in the state. The National Reserve comprises of areas from the former Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary created in 1975. This sanctuary covered territorial forests of the present North Panna Forest Division to which a portion of the adjoining Chhatarpur Forest Division was added later.
In the Reserve, one finds ancient rock paintings, believed to be around two thousand years old. Old relics of Gondwana period (rule of the tribal people of Central India) are scattered all over the Reserve.
Trees of many species (Tectona grandis, Diospyrous melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchanania tanzan, Anogeissus latifolia, Anogeissus pendula, Lannea coromandalica, Boswellia serrata, Acacia catechu, Zizyphus spp., Aegle marmelos, Butea monosperma and Gardenia spp.) constitute major Flora of the reserve.
As for major fauna, the reserve has a variety of species of mammals and reptiles. Tiger, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Hyena, Wild Dog, Wolf, Sloth Bear, Sambhar, Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara, Chausinga, Porcupine, Jungle Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Hare, Ratel and Tree Shrew, are mainly found mammals. Long snouted crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (mugger) are chief reptiles found in the Ken river.
With a view of eco-development, a short term consultancy project has been taken up by WII on “Assessment of Impact Zone around Panna National Park” in 1998-99. This Project will also give on-the-spot training to the front line staff of the Reserve on ecodevelopment issues and will develop a manual of ecodevelopment planning (in Hindi) for range level staff.
Madhya Pradesh, being surrounded by land, has both Land and Air transport facilities. Buses and trains cover most of Madhya Pradesh. Air Transport is at Indore , Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Khajuraoo
Ken River Lodge, Panna Tiger Resort, Jewel of the Jungle and Giles Tree House are the best places to stay at here.