My name is Robert and I am still in Gujerat …
The next destination is Dasada and the Little Rann of Kutch. The Arabian Sea once extended into the belly of Gujerat in two shallow arms. Over time these have silted up to form the Great and Little Ranns of Kutch. Rann meaning saline desert and Kutch being the name of the region. These are inundated in the monsoon and steadily dry out through the remainder of the year. Some grass survives around the margins and within the marsh there are some low islands, called Bates, on which mesquite and some grasses persist but most of the Rann is utterly devoid of vegetation. Beyond the ancient coastline is the Thar desert.
This place is not as sterile as it seems. It is the stronghold of the Khur or Wild Ass Equus hemionus khur. This was formerly widespread and numerous but has suffered from loss of habitat to the mesquite and herdsmen and also from some diseases. Recently given protection its population and range are currently increasing. Once the only place to see it, this is still the best place to see it. They feed mainly early morning and in the evening. They are more elegant than one might expect of an ass and can gallop at up to 80 km/hr, an impressive beast.
The Hoopoe Lark is another denizen of this empty landscape whilst the bates provide good habitat for Macqueen’s Bustard. Where there is water in an arid landscape one can be sure of a concentration of birds. We got as far as the tidal reaches of the sea and enjoyed Flamingoes, Ruff, Little Stints, Kentish Plover, Common Cranes, Greylag Goose and some Gulls and Terns.
There are even people who can make a living out here. When the Rann is flooded it becomes a prawn fishery. As it dries out it can be exploited for salt production.
It appears to run as a small family enterprise with the family living a very humble and remote life right next to the pans.