Monday, October 05, 2009

Lesser Flamingos' love Little Rann of Kutch

Of days gone by...this January during my solo all India motorcycle journey

The largest sanctuary in India and a Ramsar Site, the Little Rann of Kutch sanctuary is spread over 4,953 sq km and the five districts of Surendranagar, Banaskantha, Patan, Kutch and Rajkot and it is close to the Gulf of Kutch.

The Rann is a flat, white, cracked and utterly barren land in winter – so flat, vehicles can break the speed limit on it – except for sparse vegetation. There are 364 hills, called bets, which rise across the Rann, and become islands during the monsoon, providing food and shelter to animals. In the rains, the Rann is filled with water as a result of reverse flow of sea water and only the bets stay above the water level.

After spending 3 exciting days at the Gir National Park, I rode through the heart of Gujarat to reach Dhrangadhra to meet Mr. Devjibhai Dhamecha, a naturalist and a member of the conservation movement of Little Rann of Kutch. I stayed at his place, had lunch and got to know the history and importance of the Rann ecosystem through Devjibhai himself and his well stocked library. In a short while, I was joined by a group of architecture exchange students from Ahmedabad. It was late evening when 2 jeeps and my motorcycle made our way to Devjibhai’s eco tour camp of Koobas (huts) in the middle of the salt desert. This place is located in the Jogad village and is about 40 kms from Dhrangadhra. After settling in and post dinner, most of our group took a late night stroll into the salt desert and watched the amazingly star lit sky.

The next couple of days, I was lost in the the perfect harmony of lesser flamingos and the other saline desert birds. In parallel, I was admiring the vast open saline desert with  nothing for miles but the brown saline mud tracts and crystal clear blue skies. Devjibhai Dhamecha and his team took us to different parts of the saline desert. Each trip was an expedition in itself as we would drive deep into the dusty bowels of the desert.

Sometimes, we would stop and admire a large group of common cranes in the scrubs nearby or a large group of wild ass or hunt around for one desert courser. But, the best experience of all was when I saw lesser flamingos in the millions at Little Rann.

The Little Rann of Kutch is the largest breeding ground of the lesser flamingos in the world. These extremely pretty birds find the ecosystem and food here extremely suitable to them. Hence, one can see these lesser flamingos in millions here. While the Little Rann of Kutch has lesser flamingos, the Great Rann of Kutch has greater flamingos and a migration pattern follows during different seasons from one area of the saline desert to the other.

It was sheer thrill for me to spot lesser flamingos from horizon to horizon. I got better views once I started getting knee deep into the slush. I was scared that they would fly if I got any closer. Their lovely pink and their flying patterns is a treat to the eyes. Since I was here post the breeding season, I saw flamingos in all sizes. All the small ones were in a feeding frenzy (insects, algae, dichotoms) when I was there. Their parents were in a similar large group but at a distance, though I guess they were keeping a keen watch on the baby flamingos.

To see India through the eyes of a motorcyclist’s lens, visit the album below.
my solo all-india motorcycle journey

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