The location for this wildlife photography holiday, the Little Rann of Kutch is a featureless expanse of flat land. Comprised mostly of low-lying salt marsh known as the sea bed, this saline wilderness is dotted with islands known as beyts where coarse grasses, acacia & scrub spring up in the monsoon season. The word rann means “salty desert” & while driving through the Little Rann of Kutch, a salty desert is all you see. When you first travel across the terrain, it feels a little surreal. The ground is cracked, the air is dry, mirages abound, & the parched earth unfolds endlessly in all directions.
But within this seemingly dead piece of land, lies one of the country’s largest wildlife reserves, the Wild Ass Sanctuary, which is also the world’s last refuge of the endangered Indian Wild Asses. Standing more than a meter tall at the shoulder & two meters in length, the wild asses are very agile & can run long distances at a speed of 50 km/h, making them more like wild horses, & far more captivating than their domesticated cousins. Around 3000 of them live in the sanctuary, & they are usually seen in herds, especially around breeding season.
The Sanctuary is home to far more than just the wild ass. Among the 32 other species of mammals are the chinkara(Indian gazelle), two types of desert fox (Indian & White-footed), jackals, caracals, nilgais(the largest antelope of Asia), Indian wolves, blackbucks, & striped hyenas. Since there are no bushes or trees for animals to hide behind, they are easy to spot while driving around.
We will spend time in the marshlands looking for the birds, & the dry desert for the mammals. The marshlands & Nava Talao (lake) are crowded with water birds. Flamingos & demoiselle cranes can usually be spotted in hundreds at some water bodies. The Indian wild ass & white-footed fox can be sighted on vast areas of golden ground.
Due to its strategic location on the migration routes of many bird species & its connection with the dynamic Gulf of Kutch, this sanctuary also provides an important feeding, breeding & roosting habitat for a large number of birds. Over 200 bird species have been recorded in the area. Breeding species include India’s only known nesting colony of the Lesser Flamingo.
Other key species consist of European Roller, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, McQueen’s Bustard, Lesser Florican, Demoiselle Crane, Common Crane, Spotted Sandgrouse, Red-necked Phalarope, Cream-colored Courser, Sociable Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, White-rumped Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Indian Spotted Eagle, a variety of harriers, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian Pelican, White Stork, Greater Hoopoe Lark & Sykes’s Lark.
Our morning sessions will be “conventional” whilst the latter part of the afternoon sessions will be spent attempting to get good silhouette images of the birds of the marshlands or the Indian wild ass.
Photographable Species: cream corser
, dalmatian pelican
, desert fox
, hubara bustards
, imperial eagle
, indian bustard
, lesser flamingo
, macqueen's bustard
, marsh harrier
, montagus harrier
, pallid harrier
, peregrine falcon
, sarus crane
, short-eared owl
, spoon bill
, steppe eagle
, wild ass
Indian Birdlife of the Little Rann of Kutch Photography Holiday Itinerary