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Gujarat Narayan Sarovar Chinkara
The Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary is a Chinkara or Indian Gazelle reserve in the Kutch district of Gujarat, in Western India. At present, the Sanctuary spans about 444 sq km of arid semi-desert landscape in the Rann of Kutch and is an important habitat for a lot of important flora and fauna of the delicate desert ecosystem.
The region also exhibits temporary wetlands in the low-lying western plain, which is flooded by the monsoon and invaded by the sea, later during the dry season the consequent evaporation of the water leaves behind salt. As the northern boundary of the Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, mangroves also form their own distinct ecosystem. The remaining frontiers of the sanctuary are marked by mineral rich lands.
The original area of the Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary, when marked in 1981 was much larger, and then in 1995 some part (south and east) was de-gazetted and made available for general use. This move of the government has since then faced a lot of opposition from environmental conservationists.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The desert climate of the Rann remains hot throughout the year, but is especially hot and quite inhospitable during the summers. The best time to visit the Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary is the winter between January and May. The summers and sparse monsoon is avoided because of extreme heat and stormy weather.
How to Reach
The city of Bhuj is the nearest domestic airport and the international airport at Ahmadabad is connected to it as well as several other neighboring states.
Bhuj railway station is efficiently connected to the rest of Gujarat state and thence rest of India.
Roadways are only way to reach and explore the Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary. The closest town is Bhuj (200 km), which is in turn connected to all the major cities in Gujarat by regular state run bus services as well as private transport companies.
There is a staggering variety of birds in this desert Sanctuary, with a total of 161 birds including the resident and 38 migratory birds. These include 14 species of Raptors and several species of Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Floricon.
The unique desert ecology of the Rann of Kutch supports six snake species and nine other reptiles.
The mammalian species of the Sanctuary are most significant with the flagship Indian Gazelle. Some of the most endangered animals are found here together with some of the most common. The animals like Indian Wolf, Pangolin, Ratel and Desert Fox are either virtually extinct, internationally threatened or on the verge of extinction. The Cheetah was once found here but now has become extinct from this ecosystem and there has efforts to reintroduce the species in this habitat.
Safaris are conducted in top-covered vehicles, with a guide is mandatory. Safaris organized for groups of people are usually the best bet to a good experience.
Where to Stay
Comfortable accommodation is only available in Bhuj city and near the Narayan Sarovar Lake. There are no facilities or human habitation inside the or in the immediate surroundings of the Sanctuary.
- All visits require permission of and prior intimation to the Assistant Conservator of Forests, found in Bhuj.
- It is necessary to have a guide along, as it is easy to get lost.
- Ample water, food and first aid are essential for any visit to the Sanctuary.