Saturday, August 19, 2023

Wild Ass Sanctuary

Wild Ass Sanctuary UPSC

Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India. It can be considered a large ecotone, a transitional area between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. It is dotted with about 74 elevated plateaus or islands, locally called 'bets'. 

This sanctuary is specifically established for the conservation of the Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur), a subspecies of the Asiatic wild ass. It is the only place where the Indian wild ass, locally called Ghudkhur, is found.

These sanctuaries play a crucial role in protecting the habitat of these animals and supporting their population. They often engage in conservation efforts such as habitat restoration, anti-poaching measures, and scientific research to better understand and manage these unique creatures.

Table of Contents

  • Wild Ass Sanctuary Location
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary History
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary Area
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary Tribe
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary Flora
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Wild Ass Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Wild Ass Sanctuary Location

Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kachchh in the state of Gujarat, India. The sanctuary spans across multiple districts of Gujarat, including Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan, Banaskantha, and Kutch.

Wild Ass Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

You could fly to Ahmedabad (105 km) or Rajkot (140 km) to visit this sanctuary.

Wild Ass Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

The closest railway station is at Dhrangadhra, 22 km away. Ahmedabad and Rajkot (104 km) are major railway stations close to this sanctuary that you could travel to.

Wild Ass Sanctuary History

The Wild Ass Sanctuary has a history closely tied to the conservation efforts aimed at protecting the Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur) and its unique habitat. Here's a brief overview of the history of the sanctuary:

Early Conservation Efforts: The history of the Wild Ass Sanctuary dates back to the mid-20th century. The Indian Wild Ass, a subspecies of the Asiatic wild ass, was facing habitat loss and other threats due to increasing human activities in its natural habitat.

Establishment: In 1973, the Indian government recognized the importance of protecting the Indian Wild Ass and its habitat. The government under a notification (under the Wild Animal and Bird Protection Act) has to declare 4840.469 sq. km area (3569.363 km of Little Rann of Kutch and 1271.106 sq. km from areas surrounding Little Rann of Kutch) as Wild Ass Sanctuary.

Additional Notification of 1978: In 1978, the momentum of conservation efforts continued with another pivotal notification. This notification resulted in the expansion of the sanctuary's protected area. An additional 112.81 square kilometers were incorporated, reinforcing the sanctuary's commitment to preserving not only the Indian Wild Ass but also the intricate balance of flora and fauna within the region.

Wild Ass Sanctuary Area

Wild Ass Sanctuary encompasses an area of 4953.70 sq. km. of the Little Rann of Kachchh and the districts of Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan, Banaskantha and Kachchh. 

This area is distributed as follows:

(i) 3569.363 square kilometers within the Little Rann of Kutch

(ii) 1271.106 square kilometers from areas surrounding the Little Rann of Kutch

Wild Ass Sanctuary Tribe

The sanctuary is home to a sizeable population of Rabari and Bharwad tribesThe Rabari and Bharwad tribes are indigenous communities that have historically lived in and around the Little Rann of Kutch, where the Wild Ass Sanctuary is located.

These communities often have a deep connection with the land and its resources, including the wildlife. Their traditional knowledge and practices can sometimes play a role in conservation efforts. However, there can also be challenges in balancing the needs of both wildlife conservation and the livelihoods of these communities.

Wild Ass Sanctuary Flora

In the Little Rann of Kutch, the landscape and vegetation exhibit a distinctive interplay shaped by the challenging environment. The terrain of the Rann itself is encrusted with evaporated salt, rendering it inhospitable to most vegetation. 

Instead, the vegetation is primarily confined to the island "bets," which boast a thin layer of soil capable of sustaining plant life. This nuanced habitat division gives rise to two main categories of natural vegetation in the broader Kutch area:

(1) Halophytic Vegetation near the Sea:

Near the sea, halophytic vegetation flourishes, showcasing adaptations to saline conditions. Notable plant species in this category include Cress Cretica, Abeurapa Sp., and Chenopodium Sande. These plants have evolved mechanisms to thrive in high salinity environments, making them well-suited to the challenging coastal conditions.

(2) Low Thorny Shrubs ("Xerophytes") in the Fringe:

Closer to the edges, the landscape is populated by low and stunted thorny shrubs, commonly referred to as "xerophytes." This category includes species such as Acacia Arabica (Babul), Prosopis Spicigera, Prosopis Julifera, Salvadora Persica (piludi), Catotropic Gigantis (Akoda), and Capparis Aphylla (Kerdo), among others. These resilient shrubs have adapted to arid conditions, with their hardy nature allowing them to flourish despite limited water availability.

Within the islands (bets), the landscape is gently adorned with Prosopis Julifora (Gando Bawal), Acacia Nilotica (Desi Bawal), Prosopis Cineraria (Khijdo/Kando), Buteq Frondosa (Khakhro), as well as Chloris sp. and Aeluropus lagopoides. Dominant grasses include Chloris species and Aeluropus lagopoides, with additional presence from Dactyloctenium species, Aristida species, Eragrostis species, and Sporobolus species.

The interaction of vegetation with the unique environment of the Little Rann is a dynamic process. In areas with high salt content and clay, initial establishment is marked by Cyperus and Scirpus species, followed by Aeluropus lagopoides and Cressa cretica. 

Pockets of fresh water prompt the emergence of Blumea and Echinochloa colonum. These pioneer species often serve as soil binders, contributing to soil modification that lays the groundwork for further succession. In fallow land characterized by sandy gravelly soil, the sequence progresses from Boerhavia, E.ciliaris, and Corchorus to Aristida species.

Wild Ass Sanctuary Fauna (Wild Ass Sanctuary Animals)

The Wild Ass Sanctuary boasts a diverse and unique range of fauna adapted to the arid and saline desert environment. Here's an overview of some of the notable wildlife species you might find within the sanctuary:


  • Wild Ass
  • Blue Bull
  • Wolf
  • Jackal
  • Indian Fox
  • Wild Boar
  • Indian Wolf
  • Striped Hyena
  • Desert Hare
  • Mongoose
  • Jungle Cat
  • Desert Cat
  • Pangolin
  • Indian Porcupine
  • Indian Hare


  • Houbara Bustard
  • Spoonbill
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Common Crane
  • Common Quail
  • Rock Brush Quail
  • Little Gibis
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Laughing Dove
  • Green Pigeon


  • Black Krait
  • Black Cobra
  • Russel Viper
  • Saw Scaled Viper
  • Sea Snakes
  • Python
  • Sand Boa
  • Rat Snakes
  • Royal Snakes
  • Crocodile
  • Monitor Lizard
  • Patla Gho
  • Kutch Rock
  • Gecko
  • Desert Monitor Lizard
  • Spiny Tailed lizard
  • Sanda
  • Flat Tailed Lizard
  • Starred Tortoise
  • Water Turtle

Wild Ass Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. Where is the Wild Ass Sanctuary?/Wild Ass Sanctuary is situated in which Indian state? In which state of India does the Wild Ass Sanctuary lie?/Where is India's only donkey sanctuary?

A. Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kachchh in the state of Gujarat, India. The sanctuary spans across multiple districts of Gujarat, including Surendranagar, Rajkot, Patan, Banaskantha, and Kutch.

Q. What is Wild Ass Sanctuary famous for?

A. The Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, is famous for several reasons:

(i) Indian Wild Ass (Khur) Conservation: The sanctuary is primarily known for its efforts in conserving the Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur), a subspecies of the Asiatic wild ass. This unique and endangered species thrives in the arid and saline environment of the Little Rann of Kutch.

(ii) Unique Ecosystem: The Little Rann of Kutch is characterized by its distinct landscape of salt flats, mudflats, and desert terrain. This ecosystem is one of a kind and supports a range of wildlife species that have adapted to the challenging conditions.

(iii) Bird Watching: The sanctuary is a haven for bird enthusiasts, especially during the winter months when migratory birds flock to the wetlands and water bodies. Species like flamingos, cranes, pelicans, and various waders can be spotted, making it a popular destination for birdwatching.

(iv) Ecotourism and Wildlife Viewing: The sanctuary offers opportunities for eco-friendly tourism and wildlife viewing. Visitors can explore the unique flora and fauna of the region while engaging in responsible tourism practices.

(v) Cultural Heritage: The region around the sanctuary is also culturally significant, with local tribes like the Rabari and Bharwad communities residing nearby. This adds a cultural dimension to the visitor experience.

Wild Ass Sanctuary

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