Some places in the world are known for lush greenery, others for steep cliffs and snowy glaciers and others still for refreshing water lapping against hot beaches. But of all the landscapes in the world, harsh deserts are perhaps the one that fewest people have experienced. Believing it to be not as pleasant as other landscapes, many people miss out on the tremendous beauty found in deserts. Precisely because there are very few people, visiting deserts like the Little Rann of Kutch gives a traveler the chance to ponder a world before there were so many of us around.
The Wild Ass Sanctuary of the Little Rann of Kutch, spreading across nearly 5000 square kilometers of the Little Rann, is the only place on earth where the endangered Indian Wild Ass, Equus hemionus khur, known locally as the ghudkhar, still lives.
Because of the Sanctuary’s proximity to the Gulf of Kutch and its location on the migration routes of many bird species, it is a very important site for birds to feed and breed in. Every year, approximately 75,000 birds nest in the reserve. The ceraneous vulture comes from Egypt, the common and demoiselle cranes arrive from Siberia, the blue-tailed bee-eater visits from Europe, and the houbara bustard of Iran and Iraq stops over as well. All of these are commonly sighted in the sanctuary. Also present are sandgrouses, desert wheatears, ten species of lark, the white-browed bulbul, Indian coursers, stoneplovers, shrikes, ducks, geese, three types of ibis, spoonbills, godwits, stints, sandpipers, shanks, moorhens, saras cranes, both Indian flamingoes, and three species of pelican.
It is also home to various unique mammals apart from wild ass such as the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla) and nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus). In January I’ll be leading a group of photographers to experience the wonders of Kutch to photograph the Wild Ass and other mammals found in this area along with the migratory birds.
Stay tuned for more photos then!
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