Created in 1981, Panna National Park was a part of the hunting ground of the rulers of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar princely states along with some protected forests of Chhatarpur district. The present area of the reserve comprises of North Panna Forest Division and some added portion of adjoining Chhatarpur Forest Division.
The reserve consists of numerous ancient rock paintings believed to be as old as two thousand years. Ruins of the Gondwana period (rule of the tribal people of Central India) can be seen all over the forest. a true heritage site for the archeologists.
The sanctuary created in 1981 was eventually declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1994, the 22nd in the country and 5th in the State. The good population of the tigers enabled to achieve the feat. It proved to be a great habitat for the big cats with conducive ecosystem. The National park was built with areas from the adjoining Gangau National Park created in 1975. presently the park consists of areas from North Panna Forest Division, reserve forest in Panna district and some protected forests on Chhatarpur district.
District Panna makes the boundary in north of the natural distribution of teak and the eastern limits of teak-kardhai (Anogeissus pendula) mixed forests. It is one of the most significant ecological aspect of the forests. Situated on the hilly ranges of Vindhyanchal, Panna valley is spread over Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the northern corner of Indian state Madhya Pradesh.
River Ken which flows through the forest acts as the lifeline to the forest. incidentally it is home to the furious Long Snouted Crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (mugger). The other flora and fauna reserve of the forest makes it a ideal spot for eco and adventure tourism of the country. The river covers an extensive length of 55 km of the forest.