We did three safaris into the almost five-thousand-square-kilometer Little Rann Sanctuary, which is a time-losing, vast, dry, flat and barren landscape with an incredible beauty all of its own. Cracked earth is alternately gold or white, depending on the angle of the sun, and punctuated by succulent cacti and acacia scrub. During the monsoon, the desert apparently turns into a sea of mud. You really do lose time here. There is often no visible landmark as you race across the dusty flats in search of life.
The Rann is home to India’s last wild population of the khur or Asiatic wildass as well as a host of birds, including a natural breeding ground for flamingoes and other desert animals. The area is also a source of salt, which is farmed by pumping up ground water.
There is a surprising amount of wildlife here, especially some fantastic birds. We saw a group of short-eared owls settling down for the day, McQueen’s Bustard and a pair of mating Hoopoe Larks. Countless cranes, storks, flamingoes, chats and raptors.
On our last outing we were searching for the desert fox, and found the poor little guy, and his mate. She very smartly disappeared into the scrub and laid low. He unfortunately took off, with us in hot pursuit, screeching to a halt near him and snapping pictures as he darted away. Didn’t do that for long though. Could imagine the energy he expended trying to escape us, so took pity on the panting little guy and stayed put. He was so beautiful! Just how you’d imagine a fox should look. Sleek and red, with a large and luxurious bushy tail. Not at all like the ones we see in the urban landscape of Toronto.
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