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Location India, Gujarat
Central coordinates 71o 1.08' East  23o 42.52' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 495,371 ha
Altitude 3 - 75m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Wild Ass Sanctuary encompasses the Little Rann of Kutch and its peripheral areas in Surendranagar, Rajkot, Mehsana, Banaskantha and Kutch districts. Of the total area of the Sanctuary, 356,900 ha fall in the Little Rann, whereas 138,400 ha of wasteland fall in 107 villages of five districts. The Sanctuary area is characterized by vast, salt-impregnated, sun-baked mudflats, which are dotted with small patches of uplands, locally called bets (meaning islands). There are thirty bets of varying sizes, the five best known ones around the edge of the Little Rann are the Pung-bet, Dhut-bet, Nanda-bet, Vachabet and Jhilandan-bet. There are transition zones, or Kala-lana areas, with lower content of salt. The mudflats remain submerged for about 4 - 5 months of the year under fresh water received from a few rivers and saline water from the Arabian Sea. Water depth varies from 0.5 m to 1.5 m. The area has scanty, xerophytic vegetation cover and the fauna has adapted to the water scarcity and saline habitat conditions. The Sanctuary represents a unique true saline desert-cum-wetland habitat. Historically, it has been a part of the Arabian Sea. The Little Rann of Kutch, in which the Sanctuary is largely located, was connected with the Great Rann of Kutch and Gulf of Kutch, which got silted and separated around 400 BC or later. Fossil deposits indicate the growth of corals, mangroves and marine life before the rise of the seabed and deposition of mud. The Government of India has identified the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) as an important site for establishing a Biosphere Reserve. It is a unique habitat, which provides the last abode of the Indian Wild Ass Equus hemionus khur, one of the six geographical varieties or subspecies of wild ass surviving on the earth.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  2004  present  A1  Least Concern 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Chlamydotis undulata winter  2004  present  A1  Not Recognised 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Common Crane Grus grus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Wild Ass Sanctuary 495,371 is identical to site 495,371  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Coastline   -
Wetlands (inland)   -
Desert   -
Artificial - aquatic   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Industrial use (salt production); Transportation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Nita Shah, H. S. Singh and the IBA Team.


Ali, S. (1974). Breeding of Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor (Geoffroy) in Kutch. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 71(1): 141-144.

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Gopi Sunder, K. S., Kaur, J., and Choudhury, B. C. (2000). Distribution, demography and conservation of the Indian Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone) in India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 97(3): 319-339.

Mundkur, T., Pravez, R., Khachar, S. and Naik, R. M. (1989) Hitherto unreported nest site of the Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor in the Little Rann of Kachchh. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 86: 281-285.

Shah, N., Bonny, P. and Goyal, S. P. (1995) Avifauna of Wild Ass Sanctuary, Gujarat. Pavo 33: 135-144.

Singh, H. S., Patel, B. H., Pravez, R., Soni, V. C., Shah, N., Tatu, K., and Patel, D. (1999) Ecological Study of Wild Ass Sanctuary. GEER Foundation. Gandhinagar.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbirds Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 27/08/2014

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