Panna is the twenty second Tiger Reserve of India and fifth in Madhya Pradesh . The Reserve is situated in the Vindhyan Ranges and spreads over Panna and Chattarpur districts in the north of the state.
Panna National Park was created in 1981. It was declared a Project Tiger Reserve by Government of India in 1994. The National Park consists of areas from the former Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary created in 1975. This sanctuary comprised of territorial forests of the present North and South Panna Forest Division to which a portion of the adjoining Chhatarpur forest division was added later. The reserved forests of the Park in Panna district and some protected forests on Chhatarpur side were the hunting preserves of the erstwhile rulers of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar princely states in the past.
The location of the National Park is also important because it is situated at a point where the continuity of the forest belt, which starts from Cape Comorin in the south, is broken and beyond this the great Gangetic plains begin. This area is also the northern most tip of the natural teak forests and the eastern most tip of the natural Kardha.
The Ken river , which flows through the Reserve from south to north, is home for Gharial and Mugger, and other aquatic fauna and is one of the least polluted rivers and a tributary of Yamuna. It is one of the sixteen perennial rivers of Madhya Pradesh and is truly the life line of the Reserve. Ken offers some of the most spectacular scenery to the visitor while it meanders for some 55 km through the reserve.
The terrain of the reserve is characterised by extensive plateaus and gorges. The reserve which has a bench topography, can broadly be divided into three distinct tablelands on Panna side: the upper Talgaon Plateau, the middle Hinnauta plateau and the Ken valley. Series of undulating hills and plateaus rise on the other side of Ken river in Chattarpur district.