Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary also known as the Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India. Spread over 4954 km², it is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India.
The wildlife sanctuary was established in 1972 and came under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The sanctuary is one of the last places on earth where the endangered wild ass sub-species Indian Wild Ass (Khur) (Equus hemionus khur) belonging to Asiatic Wild Ass species Onager (Equus hemionus) can be spotted.
The Rann of Kutch is a saline desert. During monsoon, the Rann (Gujarati for desert) gets flooded for a period of about one month and is dotted with about 74 elevated plateaus or islands, locally called ‘bets’. These bets are covered with grass and feed the population of around 2100 animals.
The sanctuary is habitat to many species of animals and birds. According to the data submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre the sanctuary has
About 93 species of invertebrates – 25 species of zooplanktons, 1 species of annelid, 4 crustaceans, 24 insects, 12 molluscs and 27 spiders.
4 species of amphibians
29 species of reptiles – 2 species of turtles, 14 species of lizards, 12 snakes and 1 crocodile
Metapenaeus kutchensis – a type of prawn
70,000-75,000 bird nests
9 mammalian orders with 33 species/subspecies – including the world’s last population of the Khur sub-species of the wild ass
Biosphere Reserve – World Heritage Site
It is nominated by the Forest department to be a biosphere reserve which are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. it will focus on conserving biological diversity, research, monitoring and providing sustainable development models, the proposal has been sent to and listed at UNESCO.