The Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary covers almost 5000 square kilometres, making it the largest wildlife sanctuary in India. It is situated in Kutch, which is part of the Indian state of Gujarat. It was established in 1972 and, one year later, submitted to the management of the Wildlife Protection Act. Today, it is the home of the Indian Wild Ass, which is an endangered sub-species of the Asiatic Wild Ass. The scientific name for this particular sub-species is Equus hemionus khur, which is why it is sometimes known simply as Khur.

This area is also known as the Rann of Kutch, which translates to the Desert of Kutch in the Gujarati language. The landscape is characterised by over 70 raised plateaus that are covered with grass (like islands). For about one months of every year, the desert is flooded, revitalising the earth and replenishing the vegetation. This then sustains over 2000 asses for the remainder of the seasons in which rainfall is not as abundant as during the monsoon.

The focus of the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary is to protect and preserve these creatures, and to educate the public
Image of Wild ass Khur (Equus hemionus khur) in Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India
Wild ass Khur (Equus hemionus khur) in Wild Ass Sanctuary,
Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India
about the importance of maintaining biodiversity. The state of Gujarat is known for its population of Wild Asses as well as for its Asiatic Lions. However, these animals are being threatened by a loss of habitat as the entire area is falling victim to illegal salt panning. This will have devastating consequences on the Wild Asses and their population numbers.

Wild Asses are strong and can be very vicious with one another when contesting for a female. They fight standing on their back legs and will bite and kick each other fiercely. Once a stallion and a mare have mated, she will usually give live, mammalian birth to one foal in the period between July and September. Adults can reach galloping speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour over short distances and can average about 25 kilometres an hour over a period of a couple of hours.

However, the Wild Ass is not the only resident of the sanctuary. In fact, it boasts many animals including snakes, crocodiles, spiders, crustaceans, insects and lizards, as well as Blue Bulls, Chinkaras, Desert Cats, Jungle Cats and wolves. Bird species include Houbara Bustards, cranes, flamingos and flacons.

The Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat offers visitors safaris to ensure that they witness as many animals enjoying their natural habitat as possible. These safari tours are conducted in open-air jeeps during the early morning and late afternoon or evening, as these are the hours in which most of the fauna is making its way into the coolness of the day, rather than in the hot daytime. These trips are always conducted by a qualified guide, who will inform travellers and answer their questions.

The closest cities to the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary are Ahmedabad (110 kilometres) and Viramgam 175 kilometres). Ahmedabad is equipped with an airport.

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