Meeting Munna – Rock Star Tiger At Kanha National Park


I have never been lucky enough to see the Tigers in their natural habitat during the wildlife safaris in India. And honestly, I was quite scared of being face-to-face with them. So in my heart, I never really wished them to come close enough to me. My mind though kept looking for them out of sheer curiosity. Kanha National Park broke this ritual. I found myself face to face with their famous Rock Star Tiger, affectionately called Munna.

Tiger at Kanha National Park

Rock Star Tiger – Munna at Kanha National Park

We met Munna on our second tiger safari tour in Kanha one fine afternoon in the heat of June. By the time I sat in the jeep for this wildlife safari, I had lost all hope of sighting a tiger. After all, I did not see them in 3 safaris in Bandhavgarh and in the morning safari in Kanha. I must mention that I was thoroughly enjoying the jungle and its diversity. And had no complaints about not meeting the tiger. Though it did remain at the back of my mind that – this time also you are going to miss the tiger.

The rock star tiger at Kanha, too close for comfort
The rock star tiger at Kanha, too close for comfort

When our jeep moved on the pre-allotted path in Kanha National Park, the friendly forest guide said – Today, you would see the Tiger. And all of us gave him a cynical smile. By now we were used to guides raising our hopes by giving us stories of just-sighted tigers. Even if we told them, we are not tiger crazy, they insist that if you have come to this jungle, you have to see the tiger. He guided the driver to take the route where he had information about the tiger being sighted in the morning.

In my mind, I thought after 4-5 hours, how do you expect the animal to be in the same place? When he can move around anywhere in the jungle. At the same time, I remembered the mantra that you should always respect local knowledge.

Munna strolls unmindful of humans
Munna strolls unmindful of humans

Munna was named after a forest guard by the same name. Almost all tigers have names assigned and usually have an interesting story behind how they were named

Rock Star Tiger Munna at Kanha national park
The Tiger at Kanha national park

First Sighting of Munna

Suddenly we see a sea of jeeps parked in one place. Now we all knew ‘Kabar Pakki hai’ – these guys know for sure that the tiger is around. Jeeps were taking turns in going to a particular spot and moving on. And the cameras on this jeep took their positions and clicked frantically. So, the tiger is somewhere inside the jungle and can be seen from a particular spot. In time our turn came and yes Munna was sitting there yawning. Looking bored or maybe it has just woken up from sleep. It was just about 10-15 meters from the road, hidden from the view. Even after everyone was done with the ‘darshan’ of the famous tiger, jeeps were still standing there – waiting for something.

Our guide and driver then informed us that the rock star tiger has just woken up from sleep. And now he will go for a long walk across the forest. My logical mind said, how could you be so sure, but then it argued that these people see him every day, and must be aware of his habits. Maybe, it is the daily routine of the tiger here.

Munna the rock star Tiger marking his territory at Kanha national park
Marking his territory at Kanha national park
Tiger Munna moves on
Tiger Munna moves on

Goes for a Stroll

In a few minutes, the whole place went into a frenzy – The tiger had gotten up, scratched some trees around it, and started moving at a sleepy, lazy pace. Jeeps moved to make way for him. He came out of the bushes and looked at all the olive-green jeeps. And the human beings lined up to get a glimpse of him. He started walking – going around the trees, coming on the road, marking his territory. In between stopping and looking at all those who were trying to shoot him frantically.

I wondered if he has learned to pose after facing tourists day after day. Or he treats us like we treat birds on our balcony, who come to sit for some time and go away. And we let them be there as long as they do not create any nuisance.

Noise Irritation

At some point, when the noise levels went up too high or the jeeps got too close for their comfort, the irritation was clearly visible on his face. It was like the irritation of adults when too many kids are making noise around. You want them to shut up, but you hardly do anything to shut them up. At one point it was within a couple of meters of our jeep. And Munna looked straight at me, right into my eyes. I moved back, almost pushing my fellow traveler out of the jeep. I was very sure it saw its next meal in me and was just planning how to eat. Thankfully, our jeep moved and I was out of its sight and it is then that I could sit and look at it with ease.

He took a long walk, sat down for a while, and then started walking towards the other side of the road where jeeps are not allowed. It moved like the King of the jungle. Making it very clear that it is his area and He rules here. Everyone else must make way for him. For a good 45 minutes, it captivated the attention of every human being around on the tiger safari tour. They had eyes for no one else.

Video Of Munna – Rock Star Tiger

Watch this video of the famous tiger, I managed to capture during the Tiger safari.

Munna’s unique Id is a bright & clear CAT written on its forehead and a PM written below that

Tourist Attraction of Kanha National Park

I was later told that it is only with the Munna, that forest guards allow visitors to go close enough as they know his behavior too well. He is too old and too carefree to be bothered about people around him. They know him as a friend and know his habits & his likes and dislikes. Why not, after all, it is his sighting that keeps bringing in the tourists. That is a source of bread and butter for all those living in the tourism economy here.

It is tigers like Munna who make an appearance and bring a smile to all the faces on a wildlife holiday. Even if some get frozen at the sight. It is difficult to imagine how many safari holiday memories are created just at the sight of a tiger in national parks.

Jungle Safari ready to go
Jungle Safari ready to go
Oblivious to tiger safari enthusiasts
Oblivious to tiger safari enthusiasts

My biggest learning from being so close to the tiger and watching it react to humans around it was that you can read the expressions of tigers just like humans. This is what would remain with me after all the euphoria of meeting a tiger dies down. Do notice it next time to get to see them close enough.

Jungle Pathway
Jungle Pathway

Munna, you are a Rock Star Tiger.

Recommend you to read the following blog posts on the National Parks of India on my Travel Blog.

Jeep Safari at Satpura National Park

5 Ways to Explore Forests of Satpura

Nameri National Park & Tiger Reserve

Home to Single Horned Rhinos – Kaziranga National Park

History, Life inside Bandhavgarh National Park


  1. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories with us… and also reminding us that beautiful time we had in Kanha and other places in 2012 trip… we can’t forget that journey.. although we missed the Tigers because of some jurisdiction back then 🙁 but anyways thanks again 🙂

  2. I was fortunate enough to catch one resting at Kabini near #Bangalore. They are such amazing creatures. Have yet to go to Kanha National Park. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Munna looks so majestic unlike his cute name 🙂

    Loved the narrative…i have been on a few hiking trails…but there weren’t much dangerous beasts involved except for the wild elephants we met…

    I would really really be scared when face to face with beasts like that 🙂

      • Ha I’d like to know when you went, iv just got back from a 3 day visit and no guide even mentioned that tiger!si was lucky enough like you, to see a few tigers, but mostly the bottom or a tail waging in the far distance she says dryly!
        Like you, there were a sea of jeeps,at one point I counted30 jeeps, 20 instead waiting for tickets and10 outside clambering to get in! This was a Sunday I might add! How are you supposed to get a sighting with so nany jeeps trying to get in first,and always one with longer lines than yours! And edging in closer each time! Finally I saw him!he went out the jungle sat in the middle of the road in utter bordem on his face, as we all get up to take his photo, stillness breaktaking quietness as no one breaths or talks, then a stupid English voice yells for all to here to a friend, what took you so long! She then realised how loud her voice was! The tiger arched his head for a sevond or two, then to my delight got up, and started to walk toward the jeep I was in, bliss as I kept clicking away, my driver says sit down, as he tries to back out,! Not on your life! Closer closer I’m going!till finally the tiger meanders back into the jungle., much to my drivers relief!i wish I’d known about your I get, no one mentioned a word! In 3 days I was there sad

  4. It was great pleasure and excited moment to see the famous Munna during my first Jungle safari at Kanha national park on 17th May, 2016. My daughter was also so excited to see him walking on the road like a king. Unforgetable and life time moment, which can not be imagined. However, should thanks for sharing such an wonderful article on Munna.

  5. Dear Anuradha, we had been to Kanha this (2016) October end and we had a chance to see one Tigress in Kisli during our safari to Sarahi zone. Though we could not see Munna the Rock star, but we had a great chance to enjoy a thrilling three and a half hours of Jungle Walk Trail with none other than Munna the Forest Guard, after whom Munna the Tiger is named after. it was thrilling to hear exciting tales of Jungle from him.
    Thank you for posting a lovely article on Munna.

    • So glad, Dr. Brahmachari that enjoyed reading about Munna and you met the real Munna. I did a few safaris in Kanha. Please do read my other post on Kanha where I talk about every other animal & bird I met other than tigers. I want people to understand and appreciate that there is so much more to a jungle than just the big cats.

  6. absolutely right Anuradha. We thoroughly enjoyed every grain of sand and every breath of Kanha. Be it flora or avians or insects or mammals or reptiles and so on.

  7. Just back from Kanha and the experience was great. This was my second trip to Kanha. Saw a couple of tigresses but no males. Was keen to see Munna or Link 7 (chota Munna) or Umarpani male. Heard these three are quite big tigers. Am not sure about seeing Munna in my next trip as I. understand Munna already is 15 years plus. Maybe if I am lucky.


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