The Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur), also called the Khur, originally inhabited large parts of southern Asia including western India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and eastern Iran. However, populations diminished dramatically over the last centuries and came to a minimum in the 1960s when less than 400 of the animals remained in westernmost India. Here in the semi-desert of the Little Rann of Kachchh, the wild asses were kept safe and could recover. Since then numbers rose again to over 4000 and asses were even seen to wander off into neighboring districts. Therefore some optimism is allowed and plans exist to reintroduce the subspecies into the Thar Desert around Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, which also offers a suitable habitat.
The wild asses are among the fastest Indian animals, galloping with a top speed of around 70 km/h! The animals form small groups and feed on the sparse vegetation of the semi-desert landscape. I have taken their photographs from the back of a camel cart on the way to Gangta Bet in the eastern part of Kachchh, Gujarat, India, during a field trip in January 2011.