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SANCTUARY SPOTLIGHT

Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary


The Little Rann of Kutch is dedicated to the wild ass. This sanctuary established in the beginning of 1972, came under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1973. Known for its stamina and surprising speed (it can run at 24 km/h for two hours and take that to 70 km/h in sprints), the wild ass can put up a good fight for its mare.

The flat saline area, which gets partly submerged during monsoons, was once thrown up from below sea level by the earth's movements.

The salt-free higher grounds (about thirty of them), known as bets, have a healthy growth of grass, that keep more than 2,100 of these animals happy.

In summer, the asses move to other grounds. The best-known bets are the Pung-bet, Vacha-bet and the Jhilandan-bet. Then there are the intermediary areas that have less salt content, known as the `Kala-lana' areas.

The sanctuary also harbours the endangered Ghudkhur (Equs hemionus khur) as well as other animals. You can go on a safari in an open jeep. Wildlife is best viewed at sunrise or sunset.

Also visit: ancient monuments and inland salt pans, and get a glimpse of traditional Saurashtra village life.

Camps on the edge of the Rann are operational between July and September each year. Area: 4953 sq.km. in the Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

Mammals: Wild ass, blackbuck, blue-bull, chinkara, hedgehog, wolf, jackal, fox, striped hyena, caracal, jungle and desert cat

Birds: In winter, the sanctuary is home to nearly 300 species, including crane, flamingo, lark and falcon and rare birds such as the Houbara bustard.

Reptiles: snake, tortoise, lizard

How to get there:

Road: Viramgam (45 km)

Rail: Viramgam (45 km)

Air: Ahmedabad (110 km)

Where to stay: At the Government Guest House at Dhrangadhra, and other guesthouses or at the hut camp at Zainabad.

Contact: Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wild Ass Sanctuary.

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