Wild Ass Sanctuary
""A fiat, salt-cracked vast barren desert, hissing sand storms and the majestic Ghudkhar roaming over mirage waters make the little rann of Kachchh an unique and one of the most fascinating wilderness of the world. The Sanctuary was established in 1973 covering entire little rann and waste lands of bordering five districts with an area of 4953 Sq. KM. The rann was a shallow part of the Gulf of Kachchh earlier. It is formed through the process of siltation of marine estuary. During monsoon, the discharge of river and rain waters together with sea water blown up due to south west winds, the rann becomes a vast shallow sheet of water which dries up by October, November leaving a flat surface to provide super highway for vehicles.
Locally known as 'Ghud Khar' was once common in the North-western India. West Pakistan and South Iran. They are now found only in the Rann of Kachchh of Gujarat State. The Wild Ass falls in Family Equide which includes Horses, Zibras and Donkeys.
Indian Wild Ass is one of the sturdiest animals in the world, withstanding scorching midday temperatures unto 45° C or more without any shelter in midst of the desert and facing long periods of drought as well as other calamities with relative ease, where others cannot survive. It has strength and speed of a horse and can run at speeds of 60 to 70 Km/hr. A mature beast stands 120 cms. in height and 210 cms. in length, weighing about 230 kgs. It possesses a shiny white coat with greyish-brown patches and a black or brown hairy stripe in the centre enhancing its beauty. They move about either singly or in herds (10 to 30) in search of fodder and sweet water, resting only in hot afternoon hours. They eat what they get, generally scrubby grass and pods of prosopis.
The best time to visit the sanctuary is very early in the morning. Excursions by jeep at specific times in the morning and evening are available from Dhrangadhra, Patadi or Zainabad (near Viramgam railway station). There are also private jeeps for hire from any of these places. You can also use buses or inter-city jeeps traveling from Dhrangadhra to Patadi to reach Range Bajana gate. Whatever your transport, hiring a knowledgeable guide is highly recommended.
The Rann Riders Resort in Dasada organizes safaris to the Sanctuary by jeep or camel, specializing in birdwatching during the winter season. Contact Muzahid Malik at +919879786006 for more information. The Royal Safari Camp in Bajana also organizes safaris to the Sanctuary by jeeps. Contact: 079-65418951, +919925200657 for more information.Desert Coursers, in Zainabad, also offers excursions into the Sanctuary, based out of its unique camp of traditional Bajania kooba houses, acquainting visitors not just with the local wildlife but also the local human history and rural traditions.
In order to truly experience the Rann, an excursion of more than one day is strongly recommended. Wildlife is not a packaged event; you can visit the Taj Mahal for an hour and say you've seen it, but a living ecosystem is another matter. Animals must be sought out, are often reclusive, and are not necessarily where you expect them to be. Plus, the huge variety of wildlife here cannot possibly be experienced in a short period. Spending at least one night camped on the Rann will dramatically increase how much you connect with the landscape and its inhabitants; settling into camp in the late evening and watching the desert stars appear at night is an experience not likely to be forgotten.
For more details, contact: Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wild Ass Sanctuary, Dhangadhra District Surendra Nagar Gujarat.
How to get there
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).