Wild Ass Sanctuary
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary also known as the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India. It is spread over an area of 4954 km².
The wildlife sanctuary was established in 1972 and came under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is one of the last places on earth where the endangered wild ass sub-species Indian Wild Ass (Khur) (Equus hemionus khur) belonging to Asiatic Wild Ass species Onager (Equus hemionus) can be spotted.
The Rann of Kutch is a sealine desert. During monsoon, the Rann (Gujarati for desert) gets flooded for a period of about one month and is dotted with about 74 elevated plateaus or islands, locally called ‘bets’. These bets are covered with grass and feed the population of around 2100 animals.
The sanctuary is habitat to many species of animals and birds. According to the data submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre the sanctuary has
- About 93 species of invertebrates – 25 species of zooplanktons, 1 species of annelid, 4 crustaceans, 24 insects, 12 molluscs and 27 spiders.
- 4 species of amphibians
- 29 species of reptiles – 2 species of turtles, 14 species of lizards, 12 snakes and 1 crocodile
- Metapenaeus kutchensis – a type of prawn
- 70,000-75,000 bird nests
- 9 mammalian orders with 33 species/subspecies – including the world’s last population of the Khur sub-species of the wild ass
The main threat faced by the sanctuary is the illegal salt panning activity in the area. 25% of India’s salt supply comes from panning activity in the area.
Biosphere Reserve – World Heritage Site
It is nominated by the Forest department to be a biosphere reserve which are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. it will focus on conserving biological diversity, research, monitoring and providing sustainable development models, the proposal has been sent to and listed at UNESCO.
Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserves of Kutch
From the city of Bhuj various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch / Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve etc..
Look out for: Flamingos, Pelicans, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis and Painted Storks etc.
Be one of few to Record: Houbara Bustard, Eurasian Marsh Harrier and Bee Eater.
Seasons: Pre-monsoon to winter.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit is between November and February.
How to get there
By Road: Dholavira is 250 km from Bhuj and is reached via Bhachau and Rapar. A bus leaves from Bhuj at 14:00 and arrives at Dholavira at 20:30. It leaves at 05:00 the next morning and returns to Bhuj by 11:30. It is also possible to rent a vehicle.
By Air: The nearest airport is Bhuj. Bear in mind that an on-site guest house allows the possibility of a more leisurely experience, rather than a day trip.