The great salt flats lining the coast of the Kutch peninsula in the far west of Gujarat are among India’s signature landscapes – vast, shimmering expanses of white desert, dappled with pools of milky brine, where flocks of pink flamingos and pelicans float in the mirage at midday. This otherworldly terrain is the last place in the country where herds of wild ass are still to be found in significant numbers. The animal, which resembles a fawn-coloured donkey with a cream underside, is renowned for its strength and resilience.
Herds graze on the tiny ridges and mounds called bets which stand proud of the Rann of Kutch, forming little islands when the surrounding mud and salt plains lie under water. They’re incredibly fast on the hoof – speeds of up to 50 mph (80 kmph) have been recorded.