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Status of grasses and sedges used as main natural food plants by Indian wild ass in the fringe areas of little Rann of Kachchh (LRK), Gujarat, India

Author Affiliations

  • 1Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Indroda Nature Park, P. O. Sector-7, Gandhinagar, Gujarat-382 007, India
  • 2Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Indroda Nature Park, P. O. Sector-7, Gandhinagar, Gujarat-382 007, India
  • 3Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Indroda Nature Park, P. O. Sector-7, Gandhinagar, Gujarat-382 007, India

Int. Res. J. Biological Sci., Volume 7, Issue (5), Pages 28-31, May,10 (2018)

Abstract

The Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK) is a well-known stronghold of Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur). Fringes of the LRK, especially the southern fringe, represent the areas of the LRK where maximum population of Wild Ass occurs due to relatively perpetual availability of water and food in the form of agricultural crops due to existence and expansion of a major irrigation canal system of the state. However, these fringe areas not only raise agriculture crops that constitute food for Wild Ass, but are also endowed with certain grasses and sedges that constitute the main natural food of the Wild Ass. A comprehensive ecological field-study was carried out from October 2015 to March 2017 in the LRK and as a part of it, status (i.e. per cent cover and frequency of occurrence) of natural food-plants (i.e. grasses and sedges) of the Wild Ass was also assessed in the southern, eastern and western fringe (along with small northern fringe) areas. The study revealed that though the southern fringe was inhabited by the highest population of Wild Ass (n=1,268 as per the Wild Ass Population Census-2014 by Gujarat Forest Department), the per cent cover and frequency of occurrence of their main natural food - grasses and sedges were very low/lowest among all the fringes. Such a scenario reflects the likely depletion of the grasses and sedges that are used by Wild Ass as the main natural food plants. Such a situation may further lead to over-dependence of Wild Ass on its man-induced food, i.e. agricultural crops and it can further lead to the increased man-animal conflict. As Wild Ass is a Schedule-1 species as per the Wildlife (Protection), Act, 1972, for its effective conservation, restoration of grass cover and that of sedges on the southern fringe is recommended.

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