INDIA. Gujarat: Patdi, a very less populated village on the Saurashtra peninsula in Gujarat is famous for the ‘Little Rann of Kutch’ or ‘ Indian wild Ass sanctuary’. This sanctuary is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India with a surface area of 4954 km.
Since it is the world’s only natural habitat for wild asses, this sanctuary attracts many tourists every year. Indian wild asses (also known as ‘khur’) is a subspecies of onager species that are native to South Asia.
These animals have extreme stamina and speed. They are capable of running 24 km per hour. Galloping at the speed of a marathon runner, these animals are a delight to watch.
World’s largest sanctuary
Established in 1972, the sanctuary came under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary has three entry points- Jinjhwada, Bajana, and Aadeshwar. Bajana is considered the most easily accessible point out of the three.
Before reaching the sanctuary, it is necessary to take permission from the officials. In the morning, the wildlife safari starts at 7 and at 4 in the evening. The world’s largest sanctuary is beautiful and there’s a lot to see here. Travelling in an open jeep is no less than an adventure. Surrounded by flora and fauna, the sanctuary welcomes you with a sea bed dotted with islands known as ‘Baits’ that form the core for the flora and fauna. The breathtaking sunrise and sunset in the sanctuary fill your heart with happiness.
Viewing not sightseeing
This sanctuary is not the one, where you can go and sit in the open jeep watching the scenery or animals. It’s much more like viewing the white ass, albeit from distance, and studying its behaviour. The flatbed land that is home to the wild asses is cracked and has a texture of its own. With dry air and a dusty atmosphere, the sanctuary landscape varies from large wetlands to brown-grey patches of soil entangled with thorny shrubs.
Home to endangered species
Many endangered, near threatened animals, can be found in the Little Rann of Kutch. Flamingos, blue bull,chinkara,hedgehogs, wolf etc are a part of the biodiversity. Around 300 species of birds can be found here. In the monsoon season, the land converts into a bed of fresh rainwater. All the species living here feed on this water. Several wild trees are also found in abundance in this desert.
The most popular avian attractions in the sanctuary are Bustard and falcons. The sanctuary also has several human inhabitants. The Agarias community forms the major chunk of the population. Agarias works in salt pans for livelihood. The area in and around the sanctuary has one of the largest salt pans in India.