Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch

Rann of Kutch lies in the Indo-Malayan ecoregion. It stretches for hundreds of square kilometers in the state of Gujarat in India, from the frontier with Pakistan's Sindh desert, southward to the little Rann and the Gulf of Kutch. It provides shelter to the last population of the endangered Asiatic wild ass (Equus hermionus) and supports one of the world's largest breeding colonies of the greater and lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber and Phoenicopterus minor).

Since the Mesozoic, the little and great Ranns were expansion of the shallow Arabian Sea until geological uplift closed off the connection with the sea, creating a vast lake that was still navigable during the time of Alexander the Great (WII 1993). But over the centuries, silting has created a vast, saline mudflat. During the brief wet season, the mudflat becomes flooded. Then it becomes parched under the relentless, searing heat of the long dry season, the ecoregion has one of the highest annual evaporation rates in the region (WII 1993). Average summer temperatures hover around 44C but can reach highs of 50C, and the minimum winter temperatures approach or even drop below freezing (WII 1993). The flora consists of grasses and dry thorny scrub such as Apluda aristata, Dichanthium annulutum, Panicum antidotale, Cenchrus spp., Pennisetum spp., Cymbopogon spp. and Elionurus spp. The large trees include Prosopis juliflora, Prosopis cineraria, Caparis decidua, Ziziphus nummularia, Acacia senegal and Salvadora oleoides.

The area supports many locally and globally threatened species including the IUCN red-listed species such as the birds including Ardeotis nigripes, Chlamydotis undulata, Grus antigone and Phoenicopterus minor, Gyps bengalensis, Gyps indicus, Sarcogyps calvus, Neophron percnopterus, and the mammals including Hyaena hyaena, Gazella gazella, Boselaphus tragocamelus and Canis lupus. The Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur) is the only endemic mammal species found in this region. The site is also a feeding ground for flamingoes, a breeding area for Grus antigone, and a wintering area for migratory waterbirds. The area regularly supports over 50,000 waterbirds. Over 1% of the individuals in the south Asian populations of Phoenicopterus ruber and P. minor have been regularly recorded in the area.

Threats

Cattle grazing, tree cutting and vehicular traffic are the major threats to this ecoregion's habitat. The proposed expansion of the commercial salt extraction operations will result in disturbances to wildlife, especially to the wild ass population and the, bustards, flamingoes, and pelicans (WII 1993).Non-Steroidal Anti inflammatory Drug Diclofenac is a major threat for critically endangered Gyps vultures in the region.

What WWF-Pakistan is doing?

In the past WWF-Pakistan through its Pakistan Wetlands Programme, has conducted baseline ecological studies and has been monitoring migratory waterfowls at Jubho lagoon, Nurri lagoon and Runn of Kutch ramsar sites.

Further, WWF-Pakistan has launched the Gyps Vulture Restoration Project in the area. The key project objective is to conserve a viable population of Gyps bengalensis in a safe environment.

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