Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Great Rann of Kutch, Kutch district, Gujarat, India, it was declared a sanctuary in February 1986.
It is one of the largest seasonal saline wetlands having an average water depth between 0.5 to 1.5 metres. By October–November each year, rain water dries up and the entire area turns into saline desert. The sanctuary supports wide variety of water birds and mammalian wildlife.
It encompasses a true saline desert where thousands of greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) nest in the world famous ‘Flamingo City’ located in the mud flats of the Rann, about 10 km from Nir outpost on Kala Dungar hill. It is the only area where flamingoes congregate to breed regularly.
As per a television series, National Security by Rajya Sabha TV, the flamingo city is now a dead patch of land and flamingos do not come to breed here
The northern boundary of this sanctuary forms the international border between India and Pakistan and is heavily patrolled by the Border Security Force in India with much of this sanctuary being closed to civilians after the India Bridge at Kala dungar (Black hill), Khavda. Tourists and researchers can only enter here with special permission from the BSF.
In the area controlled and patrolled by the Border Security Force (BSF) after the "India Bridge" several hundred square kilometers of Rann is pure white like snow with heavy deposit of salt crystals. The marshy Rann here becomes pure white and flat till the eye can see, till the horizon after the rain water has dried up, in the winters every year.
Since the Rann is flat like a sheet of paper in the afternoons with bright sunshine a shimmering mirage forms which is like an illusionary lake that fills the dry Rann till the eye can see.
Buried nearby to where the flamingoes breed is the ancient excavated city of Dholavira from the Harappan civilization, attracting archeologists from all over the world.
This sanctuary has some other ancient attractions as well. Embedded in the Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks on Khadir, Kuvar and Pachchham bet islands in the Greater Rann, are plenty of fossils of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. Fossils of dinosaurs, crocodiles (of the 'Dinosaurian period') and whales (dating from the Tertiary period) have been recorded to have been recovered from here. Fossilized trees and forests are found here in the rocks belonging to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The fossils of invertebrates here include those of sea urchins, ammonites and such others.
J. P. Dutta's Bollywood film Refugee is shot on location in the Great Rann of Kutch and other locations in the Kutch district of Gujarat, India. This film is inspired by the famous story by Keki N. Daruwalla based around the Great Rann of Kutch titled "LOVE ACROSS THE SALT DESERT" which is also included as one of the short stories in the School Standard XII syllabus English text book of NCERT in India.
From the city of Bhuj various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch / Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve etc. On the opposite side of the border in Pakistan, the Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuary preserves 566,375 hectares.