How will Rajasthan host the Wild Ass which reached the desert state Mr CM?

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By Jaysukh Parekh Suman in Bhuj, a conservationist & photographer

What a surprise — the Wild Ass has now settled in Barmer district of Rajasthan. So here comes one more ungulate species for this largest state in India which boasts of Tigers, Leopards, Birds and Bishnoi people who treat Nature Conservation as part of their 500-year-old religion. However, so far, no one has offered a flowery garland to this new arrival though the Forest Minister, Sukh Ram Bishnoi did ask forest authorities to take appropriate measures and provide its due to the Ass. His constituency is nearly.

Current challenges of forest officials

The forest department is at its wit’s end. Already knee deep in pressure owing to truant Tigers, and leopards roaming in to urban areas, Bustards disappearing from designated Desert National Park to find agricultural fields as better habitat for own survival, migratory Vultures coming from Europe and the Himalayan heights not finding sufficient carrion to survive during winter months, poaching too, etc.  

Developing Barmer as a viable sanctuary

A project report has been scripted to develop the areas in Barmer district as a viable sanctuary to not only accommodate this Ass  but also to take care of numerous migratory and resident species of birds that stay in brackish water puddles of that arid region, named as Rankhar. An estimated fund worth Rs 25-crore is to be spent if made available to foresters. It is to create a new wall and raise barbed-wire fencing to ensure safety of wild species and protect their habitat.  

Conceiving new option for tourism

The officials feel that this brackish area can be conceived for tourism on lines with what Gujarat has done in the Greater Rann of Kutch: tent-living to enjoy the Rann under moon, sun and have camel rides, etc. Securing a niche through the Ass and birds? Sounds good. But water will not be available there round-the-year so it will be like Sambhar and Keoadeo National Park, facing shortage of water for wild species. 

Why Wild Ass opted for Rajasthan

Wild Ass is native to Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. People double up for birds and mammals in this vast brackish area covered with mostly Vilayati Babook (Prosopis juliflora), grassland, and long stretches of monsoon water. Some mammals’ population increased to good luck of Gujarat and they spread their legs towards northern areas in Rajasthan. Gujarat does not mind its Ass opting a new place in Rajasthan.  

Welcome note awaited yet

However, Rajasthan so far appears bit shy to host it? That is why the state’s Tourism Department has not yet written a welcome note for this new addition in its charter of attractions. The usual practice may be to leave most decisions to Hon Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot. For the Wild Ass also. Wildlife lovers and tourism operators are waiting for a declaration in the New Year. Best wishes from EB&W for this as well. 

PS: The writer is an expert on wildlife and is a great photographer too!

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