Banni Grassland Reserve - Gujarat

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 18, 2022, 4:37

The Banni Grassland Reserve is an arid grassland area in Kutch District, Gujarat, India. It is situated at the southern edge of the Rann of Kutch salt flats.

The Banni Grassland Reserves cover an area of 3847 square kilometres and are noted for their diverse species and biodiversity. The term 'banni' comes from the Hindi word 'banai,' which means 'made.' The name references the grassland reserve's origins, which were formed over time when sediments and river deposits from the Indus piled in the area.

Vegetation of the Banni Grassland Reserve

The vegetation in Banni Grassland Reserves is sparse and extremely reliant on rainfall fluctuations from year to year.

Limited forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt resistant), as well as scattered tree cover and brush, dominate the Banni Grassland Reserves. Salvadora spp. and the invasive Prosopis juliflora make up most of the tree cover in these reserves.

Cressa cretica, Cyperus spp., and grasses from the genera Sporobolus, Dichanthium, and Aristida are among the main species of the Banni Grassland Reserves.

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Wildlife of the Banni Grassland Reserve

Among the species found in the Banni Grassland Reserves are the nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), chinkara (Gazella bennettii), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), wild boar (Sus scrofa), golden jackal (Canis aureus), Indian hare (Lepus nigricollis), Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), caracal (Caracal caracal), Asiatic wildcat (Felis silvestris ornata) and desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla).

Since 1976, the last Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) inhabitants, which had been restricted to the nearby Little Rann of Kutch, have been increasing in numbers and have recently started spilling over into neighbouring areas such as the Greater Rann of Kutch, Banni, and the adjoining villages of the neighbouring state of Rajasthan.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has designated Banni Grassland Reserves as one of the few surviving habitats of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in India. It has been considered one of the prospective places for the species' reintroduction.

Banni Grassland Reserves wetlands are located on the Palearctic migratory bird flyway and serve as significant foraging, roosting, resting, and staging sites for millions of waders, ducks, cranes, and other feathered migrants who visit the area every year from August to March.

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Tourism development in the Banni Grassland Reserve

The area around the Banni Grassland Reserves in the district of Kutch is being developed for ecotourism by the Gujarat state government.

A few of the local villages in Banni are being developed as village resorts, showcasing local arts, crafts, ancient Kutchi architecture, and traditional Kutchi cuisine; these small resorts are being run by the villagers themselves in collaborative efforts with the formal tourism infrastructure, to boost tourism in the area.

The Kutch Infrastructure Development Society has also developed a 270-kilometre stretch in the Banni Grassland Reserves for the Adani Desert Car Rally. The Sindhi-speaking cattle breeders from the Jat, Mutwa, Hingora, and Hingorja tribes live in the Banni Grassland Reserve.

Since May 1955, the Banni Grassland has been designated as a protected forest under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. The marshes of the Banni Grassland Reserves are split into four sections in the Kutchi-Sindhi language, with a portion of them in Pakistan. Kar is the smallest of the four, followed by Chhachh, which is larger than Kar, Thathh, and Dhand, which is the largest.

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FAQs on Banni Grassland Reserve

Q1. What is the coverage of Banni Grassland Reserve?

Ans. Banni Grassland Reserve covers 2,618 square kilometres and accounts for over half of Gujarat's pastures.

Q2. What is the importance of Banni Grassland Reserve?

Ans. The biodiversity of the Banni Grassland Reserve is exceptionally high. It is home to around 150 kinds of migratory and resident birds, as well as 37 grass varieties, 275 bird species, and domesticated animals.

Q3. Where is the Banni Grassland Reserve found?

Ans. The Banni Grassland Reserve is found on the Rann of Kutch's outer southern border.

Q4. Since when the Banni Grassland Reserve has been designated as a protected forest under the Indian Forest Act of 1927?

Ans. Since May 1955, the Banni Grassland Reserve has been designated as a protected forest under the Indian Forest Act of 1927.