Bandhavgarh has been an excellent habitat for Tigers which was under the control of Baghels, rulers of Rewa state; who had declared this area as their private game reserve therefore it was also referred to as “Shikargaah of Rewa Maharaj”. Consequently the fort, reserve area and surrounding forests were passionately protected by the royal family who had exclusive hunting rights in this area. After independence of India in the year 1947 and abolition of princely states, for few years a proper controlling authority could not be established in Bandhavgarh area because of which the forests in this area slowly started degrading as unchecked human pressure increased.
The state of Madhya Pradesh was formed in 1956 and very soon the state realized the ecological importance of Bandhavgarh. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa, who was already deeply moved by the degradation of forests took initiative to protect this area and its rich bio-diversity and on his proposal an area of 105 sq. km was declared as National Park; which was officially notified in 1968. In 1982 the area of the park was extended to 448.842 sq. km. and three more ranges namely, Khitauli, Magdhi and Kallawah were added to Tala Range.
One of the most intensive conservation efforts in India and perhaps the world, Project Tiger was officially launched in year 1973 with the objective of improving the population of Tigers in India which had been dwindling considerably over the years. Considering the importance and potentiality of Bandhavgarh National Park in this cause, it was included in Project Tiger network in 1993, along with Panpatha Sanctuary, which was created in 1983 with an area of 245.847 sq. km, forming initial core area of 694.689 sq. km. Thus the “Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve” came into being in 1993 with core area of 694.689 sq. kms. and a buffer area of 437 sq. kms. Both the core area and buffer areas have been subsequently slightly expanded in later years.