Pench National Park or Tiger Reserve is one of the premier tiger reserves of India and the only one to straddle across two states – Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Ordinarily, the reference to Pench is mostly always to the tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh(M.P).
The portion of the reserve that is in Madhya Pradesh is nestled in the southern slopes of the Satpura range of Central India. Pench Tiger Reserve comprises the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Pench Mowgli Sanctuary and a buffer. It derives its name from its life line-the River Pench. Inside the park, the river flows from North to South before going on to join the Kanhan River, while splitting the Park into two, and forming the boundary of Seoni District and Chhindwara District districts of Madhya Pradesh. The Meghdoot dam built across Pench River at Totladoh has created a large water body of 72 km2 out of which 54 km2 falls in M.P. and rest in the adjoining state of Maharashtra. The Pench River which emerges from Mahadeo Hills of Satpuda Ranges and the various nallas and streams which drain into it, all flow through the forests of Protected Area. The Satpuda ranges which bear the forests of the Protected Area act as an excellent watershed area for the Totladoh as well as lower Pench Reservoirs.
On the Madhya Pradesh side, the Pench Tiger Reserve encompasses a core area of 411.33 km2, with a buffer of 768.3 km2., making for a total protected area of 1179.63 km2. The core area includes the Mowgli Pench Wildlife Sanctuary whose area is 118.30 km2. The Buffer Zone is constituted by Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Revenue land
Located south of the tiger reserve area in Madhya Pradesh, is the Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. On the Maharashtra side, the Pench Tiger Reserve has a core habitat area of 257.3 km2 along with a buffer/peripheral area of 483.96 km2. of the Mansinghdeo Sanctuary, making for a total protected area 741.2 km2. Spanning over a total protected region of over 1920 km2., both these tiger reserves are included in the Level 1, 13,223 km2 (5,105 sq mi) Tiger Conservation Unit – 31 (Kanha-Pench TCU). As per many experts, this area is considered as one of the most prime and critical tiger habitat remaining in central India. As of May 2017, the number of tigers in Pench Tiger Reserve has increased up to 44 as compared to 31 in 2016. From this numbered estimate, 22 are males and 22 are females. This estimate does not include the number of cubs present, which are assumed to be about 7 – 8. The estimation was conducted jointly by the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and Pench Tiger Foundation, spread over 21 days in January 2017.