The Wild Ass
Equus Hemionus Khur
Unlike the African continent, India has no zebras. But the closest we come to it is the Wild Ass, an equine creature, that inhabits a few far-flung pockets of the country.
It is a sub-species of the Onager, which is found in some parts of India, Pakistan and Iran.
Compact and muscular, this animal is one of the fastest moving in the world.
It can run at speeds of around 70 km per hour, and often outruns our jeep when we head out for a game drive!
Our naturalists are well-versed in the ways of the Wild Ass and usually approach it slowly so that it doesn’t get spooked. Getting up close to a Wild Ass is a rare thing, as the minute you come too near they dart off.
It loves open ground and one of the places where you’ll see herds of them racing towards the horizon is on the stark salt flats in the Little Rann of Kutch.
IUCN lists it as a near-threatened species, and there are only a few numbers left of this particular sub-species, which is endemic to this arid region.
Every monsoon season, the Little Rann of Kutch floods, and all that is left above ground are small bets, mounds of earth that protrude from the ground like islands.
During this period, the Wild Ass forages off the meagre vegetation on these bets, leaping from one island to the next, in search of food. The Wild Ass live in harmony with the tribal nomads who roam through the Little Rann of Kutch with their livestock. Sometimes, the Wild Ass will make its way into a tribal settlement or a village to forage for food, but by and large, they are wary creatures and will run a mile the minute you get near.