This funnily named sanctuary got its name from the population of Indian Wild Ass living within its confines. In fact, it is one the few remaining places worldwide where this sub-species of wild ass can be found. The sanctuary is the largest in India covering the entire Rann of Kutch in Gujarat spreading for over 4954 km². It was created in the year 1972 and a year later it came under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1973. The entire area is a featureless flat marshy land dotted with small tiny islands locally known as “bets” covered with grass.
Species Found: As per the latest data from UNESCO World Heritage Centre, there are
about 93 species of invertebrates, 4 species of amphibians, 29 species of reptiles, 70,000-75,000 bird nests and 33 species/subspecies of mammals including the world's last population of the wild ass here. The wild asses are marathon runners having an average speed of 24 kms per hour and sometimes reach 70 when they sense danger.
The wild mammals residing here are blackbuck, chinkara, nilgai, wolf, caracal, desert cat, Indian fox, striped hyena, Indian pangolin, small Indian mongoose, Indian desert gerbil etc. Reptiles such as spiny-tailed lizard, yellow monitor, black cobra and sand boa are also found here.
The avian species seen here are bustard, short-toed snake eagle, long-legged buzzard, steppe eagle, imperial eagle, laggar falcon, saker falcon, short-cared owl, lesser flamingo, greater flamingo, asian openbill, woolly-necked stork, white stork, eurasian spoonbill, great crested grebe, naming a few. Some of the migratory birds that visit Wild Ass Sanctuary include crane, demoiselle crane, vulture and houbara bustard.
Best Time: The best time to visit is between the months of November and June.
Jeep Safaris: Jeep safaris of different durations are organised for exploring the vast sanctuary. The safaris also include visits to historic monuments and temples, inland salt works and numerous other places of interest like the city of Rajkot and traditional village famous for dyeing and handloom products. Camel safari can also be organised on request.
Getting There: Traveling from Ahmedabad airport at a distance of 110 kms is more convenient than from the nearest airport Bhuj. Viramgam is the nearest railhead standing just 45 kms away.
Accommodation: If you want to stay in the midst of the wilderness you can stay at the Rann Resorts located within the sanctuary. Another popular stay option is the Desert Coursers located a highway close to the sanctuary.