Little Ran – desert of Kutch is a salt marsh located near the Great Rann of Kutch in Kutch district, Gujarat, India. Little Rann of Kutch is a unique place on earth with an unending possibility of exploration, numerous sites for unbelievable sights and unforgettable experiences. It is the only heaven on earth for endemic Asiatic Wild Ass.
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary also known as the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary located in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state spread over 4954 km², it is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India.
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) belonging to Asiatic Wild Ass species Onager (Equus hemionus) can be spotted.
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. The only other two subspecies of wild asses live in the high arid plateaus of Tibet, making this the most accessible place to visit wild asses in their natural environs. Standing more than a meter tall at the shoulder and two meters in length, wild asses are very agile and can run long distances at a speed of 50 km/h, making them more like wild horses, and far more captivating than their domesticated cousins. Around 3000 of them live in the sanctuary, and are usually seen in herds, especially around breeding season (foals can be seen with the herds around October and November.)
But the Sanctuary is home to far more than just the wild ass. Among the 32 other species of mammals are the chinkara(Indian gazelle), two types of desert fox (Indian and White-footed), jackals, caracals (African lynx), nilgais(the largest antelope of Asia), Indian wolves, blackbucks, and striped hyenas. From the salty desert, periodically inundated during the monsoons, to wetlands where freshwater rivers draining through the Rann mix into the seawater of the Gulf of Kutch, and the scrub forests found on the beyts, the variety of vegetation types means a similar variety of animals inhabit the area.
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.
The Sanctuary also houses 93 species of invertebrates, including crustaceans, insects, molluscs, spiders, annelids and zooplanktons, as well as four species of frogs and toads, two species of turtles, twelve snakes, fourteen species of lizards and one kind of crocodile. The tidal wetlands along the edge of the Gulf of Kutch are a key breeding area for prawns.
Unfortunately, the Wild Ass Sanctuary is in danger from several sources, and the poachers who have begun to frequent the region are not even the greatest of these. Illegal salt mining tops the list, as a full quarter of Indias salt comes from mining around the Little Rann. The noise and air polluti’on caused by transportation of this colossal amount of salt is gradually eating away at the wildlife habitat. The Indian Army also maintains a firing range of over 200 square km inside the sanctuary borders. (If you find live firing antithetical to a wildlife sanctuary, that’s because it is.) Furthermore, the chemical factories popping up in the area, out of the way of where there are people to notice their atrocious environmental practices, are contaminating the region with dangerous industrial chemicals.
What to See and Do
Jeeps are available at near by villages. One can to to little run by jeep and see Wild Ass, Blue Bull (Roze), dear etc.
Where To Stay
Resorts are there at near by villages i.e. Dasada,Bajana etc.
How To Get Around
Little Run of kutch is 95 km away from Ahmedabad
By road: The Wild Ass Sanctuary is 130 km from Ahmedabad, 45 km from Viramgam, 175 km from Rajkot and 265 km from Bhuj, accessible from all of these by ST buses.
By rail: The Nearest Railway stations are: Dhrangadhra – 16 kms Ahmedabad – 130 Kms Rajkot – 175 Kms The Sanctuary has three main access points: Dhrangadhra, Range Bajana, and Range Aadeshwar. Range Bajana is the best place to enter in the winter as the wetlands that house migratory birds are closest to it. Dhrandgadhra is the easiest place to find transportation and accommodation (there is a government guest house, as well as private ones).