Kabini is located on the south-western side of the Nagarhole National Park in Mysore district. It has a mix of dry and moist deciduous forests and includes the famed backwaters of the Kabini, a unique micro-habitat on its own.
In 1955 an area of 285 sq km in Coorg district was gazetted as the Nagarhole Game Sanctuary. In 1974 it was expanded to 664 sq km by adding some reserved forests from the Mysore district and was accorded the status of a National Park. In 2003, it was declared a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
Kabini has a large number and variety of large herbivores, including the Asian Elephant, seven species of ungulates and two species of primates. The three major predators that call it home are the Tiger, Leopard and Wild Dog. Over three hundred species of birds, both resident and migratory, have been recorded here.
Moist-deciduous and dry-deciduous forests dominate the Park. It also contains large plantations of teak and some secondary forests where these plantations failed. There are also various microhabitat types, such as the hadlus or shallow clayey valley bottoms containing swamp savannas and the famed Kabini backwaters.
Nagarhole is home to indigenous peoples like the Beta Kurubas and Jenu Kurubas. Collectively known as Kadu Kurubas, they traditionally lived in small settlements called Hadis. Originally hunter-gatherers, they later switched to swidden agriculture. When the area was declared a National Park, the Kurubas of Kabini were relocated from their original hadis to their present-day villages outside the Park.