Photography - Destination

Kutch Bustard Sanctuary : Click the Great Indian Bustard before Extinction!

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The vast and varied geographical specifications of India make it a haven for many unusual birds and animals. One such bird is the Great Indian Bustard, locally known as the Ghorad bird. It makes a very interesting subject for photography because it is under immense threat of extinction. Bird photographers and bird watchers visit the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Kutch region of Gujarat, India, in the hope of finding some great shots.

Can the Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary save the Ghorad?

The critically endangered bustard is only found in six Indian states. Out of these states, they prefer to thrive only in grasslands. Therefore, Great Indian Bustard sanctuaries at Kutch and Maharashtra provide their natural habitat.

With their numbers falling every day, bird watchers, naturalists, and bird photographers are visiting these sanctuaries with the sole purpose of having a glimpse of this majestic bird before it becomes extinct.

Details About Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Main Wildlife Attractions: Great Indian Bustard

Coverage Area: 2 sq.kms

Established: 1992

With a protected area spanning barely 2 square kilometers, Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is located in Taluka Nalia of District Kutch. This sanctuary is the smallest bird sanctuary in India and is also known by the name of Lala Parijan Sanctuary. 

There is another sanctuary for Great Indian Bustard in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Nevertheless, because of being the preferred habitat of the Great Indian Bustard, the sanctuary at Kutch is of extreme importance to naturalists and photographers alike.

The importance of this bird sanctuary is evident because there are fewer than 200 Great Indian Bustards left in India, making them feature on the red list of animals under threat of extinction.

These birds were once abundant in other parts of India, for example, Haryana, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Punjab. Sadly, their numbers have fallen tremendously and if efforts to breed and sustain them are not made, future generations will only see these birds in photographs.

This sanctuary has the second largest population of the bird, after the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Rajasthan.

But why Kutch?

Well, the topography of Kutch makes it an ideal breeding ground for this bird.

With marshy wetlands and arid desert sections, this region assumed the status of a bird sanctuary in 1992, with the primary motive of providing a safe haven for the Ghorad bird.

The sanctuary has Jakhau creek on its northern border and consists of forests of Budia village and Jakhau village. This region receives very low rainfall, and the sanctuary remains parched for most of the summers.

Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary
Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Expansion Plans

Owing to the small protected area, experts feel that the Great Indian Bustard is not being able to proliferate freely. Therefore, many government agencies are planning to expand the protected zone to cover adjoining forests and grasslands.

If these plans materialize, then an expanded sanctuary will increase the chances of its survival and expansion.

The Great Indian Bustard: Details You Should Know

Did you know that the Ghorad was once a contender to become the national bird of India?

Great Indian Bustard
Great Indian Bustard

What makes the Great Indian Bustard unique is that it resembles the ostrich in its size, structure, and habitat. Yet, unlike the ostrich, this bird can fly very well. Despite its flying ability, this bird is usually sighted on land, either nesting or searching for food.

Its food habits are also unique because it is an omnivorous bird.

The Great Indian Bustard, though originally ate only cereals, has now become omnivorous and eats insects and small reptiles like lizards.

Great Indian Bustard
Save the Great Indian Bustard

It breeds during the rainy season and prefers to stay in vast open spaces, unlike many birds that prefer to stay behind the canopy of thick trees. It lays one egg at a time that takes about 45 days to hatch. These birds need open spaces for making their nest, for foraging, and for roosting.

Because of the tremendous downfall in their numbers, bird photographers are rushing to bird sanctuaries that are natural habitats of these birds, so that they can capture bustard shots. It is Schedule I bird under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and is included in the Red Data list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Bird Species Found in Kutch Bustard Sanctuary

There are more than twenty bustard species all over the world. Out of these, three species are found in Kutch- the Great Indian Bustard, McQueen’s Bustard, Houbara bustard and Lesser Florican Bustard. Out of these, the population of the Great Indian in dwindling at an alarming rate.

bustard species
The bustard species at the sanctuary

Other than Ghorad and other varieties of bustards, many kinds of birds can be found here, including, but not limited to, black partridges, shrikes, grey francolins, plovers, sand grouses, black francolins, Stoliczka's bushchat, cranes, harriers, egrets, herons, larks, imperial eagles, coursers, and flamingos.

flamingos kutch bustard sanctuary
Flamingos at the kutch bustard sanctuary

Other Animals at Kutch Bustard Sanctuary

Other than the species of above-mentioned birds, the sanctuary is home to a large number of animals and plants. Some of the commonly sighted animals in the sanctuary are the royal snake, striped hyena, jackal, wolf, fox, nilgai, mongoose, caracal, chinkara and desert cats.

Animals Kutch Bustard Sanctuary
Animals at Kutch Bustard Sanctuary

Ideal Time to Visit Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary

Best Time to Visit: October to March

The sanctuary remains open for public visits 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. However, bird photographers and bird watcher prefer to visit the sanctuary as soon as it opens in the morning.

This is because early morning is the best time to sight the birds as they are most active at this time of the day.

The months between September and March are considered to be the most favourable for sighting birds and having maximum chances of capturing excellent photographs.

Entry Fee

Entry to this sanctuary is free of cost, but guided tours and safari tours are chargeable depending on the number of people and duration requested. There is no fee for carrying cameras for photography and videography.

How to Reach 

Map of great indian bustard sanctuary kutch
Map of great Indian Bustard sanctuary in Kutch, Gujarat

The Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary lies in the Indian state of Gujarat and can be reached by public transportation or private car.

By Air:

Bhuj (110 kilometers) and Ahmedabad (50 kilometers) are the nearest airports to this sanctuary. Many national and private carriers have connections to these airports. From these cities, the sanctuary can be reached by bus, cab or taxi.

By Train:

The nearest train station is Nalia, located about 20 kilometers away. However, this station is not a major train station and very few trains stop here. From here, ample public transportation services like a bus, cab, and shared taxi are possible.

By Road:

Nalia is the nearest bus station from where you can reach this sanctuary. Many interstate buses stop her, and a shared cab or taxi can then be hired for reaching the sanctuary.

Why Photographers Should Visit Kutch Bustard Sanctuary

The Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is among the few preferred habitats of the mighty Indian bird. This sanctuary has the topography and ideal weather conditions for the bird’s survival and proliferation. However, given the small area of the sanctuary, the population of this bird is not increasing much.

Therefore, the Government has planned an expansion of the sanctuary to include part of the adjoining grasslands and forest covers.As a bird photographer, you should definitely visit this sanctuary and bring back some great shots of the Great Indian Bustard.

The Kutch Bustard Sanctuary was primarily built to save the Great Indian bustard from the effects of poaching and hunting.

The main point of interest here is the great Indian bustard, and the graph of the sanctuary shows a steady rise in their growth. Kutch Bustard Sanctuary is home to the huge bustard, though space seems inadequate for it to live freely.

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