Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Mine is tender this afternoon. I spent more than four hours this morning perched on our vehicle's spare tyre as we lurched over speed bumps, through ruts in the muddy plain and - quite literally - through spine-laden bushes of Prosopis juliflora.

My seat for safari this morning

Other asses than mine were much admired in the Little Rann of Kutch today. These beautiful toffee-and-white animals have largely moved into adjacent farmland for the summer now, but in the salty plain we met several, including families with well-grown foals. They are highly-strung and cantered into the spiky scrub at our approach but soon settled to graze, socialise and bicker when followed by such skilled, intelligent drivers as ours from Rann Riders.

A distant Indian wild ass

As thrilled as we were to see these rare creatures, they were not the highlight of our morning in the semi-desert of the Little Rann of Kutch. An Indian fox, the soft grey of a smudge of eye-liner, lay panting in the shade of a Prosopis, its black tail-tip a hard point in the edgeless wash of the plain, the sky and the sun.

Nor though was the Indian fox the highlight of our morning. At a sandy den by straggling bushes sat a two-month-old desert red fox cub, while an older, warier cub skirted this same stand of Prosopis, keeping a safe distance from our vehicles. Such cute, pretty animals as a baby desert red fox owe more, one feels, to Disney than to evolution. Think fennec fox with a touch more light and shade, a little more leg, and a dash more jaunty attitude. Our hearts were quite lost to this livewire of life in the desert's morning cool.

On our route back to Rann Riders there were many wetland birds: garganey, spotbill, shoveler, cotton pygmy-goose, lesser whistling-duck, pheasant-tailed jacana and purple swamphen. Here at the lodge there are shady gardens, tanks with lilies and bullfrogs, wag-tailed Rottweilers, an emu (apparently, though I have yet to explore the grounds), and a very fluffy cat.

In the absence of its wild relatives, here is the lodge cat.

Calotes in the garden at Rann Riders
Adenium in the garden

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