The Couple Who Bought 55 Acres Of Barren Land And Transformed It Into A 300 Acre Wildlife
The Couple Who Bought 55 Acres Of Barren Land And Transformed It Into A 300 Acre Wildlife Sanctuary
In today’s world, where global warming has become an accepted scientific fact, where species of plants and animals are vanishing from the planet at an unexpected rate, where vital water resources are drying up due to the unrelenting pace of deforestation, the fact that the 300 acres of barren land in the area Kodagu district has been nurtured and converted into a forest gives us a hope that not everything is destroyed and there are humans who are still there fighting selflessly for everyone of us. When Malhotra couple came to India for the funeral of Anil’s father in 1986, the pollution in Haridwar horrified them, that was when they decided to do something to reclaim forests in the country.
Vision accompanying passion
Pamela and Anil Malhotra, the couple passionate about wildlife and nature conservation, bought 55 acres of land 23 years ago and today they have converted it into a beautiful forest which encompasses an area of 300 acres land in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in western ghats. SAI (Save Animals Initiative) sanctuary is located in the Kodagu district in Karnataka. SAI Sanctuary is the only private sanctuary in India, acme to host animals like Bengal Tiger, Sambhar and Asian Elephants.
The efforts to make a wildlife sanctuary started in 1991 and the rules were: no chopping down of any tree, no human interference and no poachers. After 25 years their unmatched passion is responsible to transform barren land into a wildlife sanctuary. Several cameras are installed across the sanctuary to identify new animals and keep a track on poachers.
“Our aim is to preserve the flora and fauna, especially the rainforests for the future generation. We believe that when we die we should give back the same earth which we got from our ancestors to the next generation,” says Dr. Anil.
Tough but rewarding journey
When Malhotra couple started this sanctuary, they invested their own money. Now they are registered not-for-profit trust which runs on donations which get tax exemptions. Apart from funds, another challenge comes while patrolling the sanctuary. To counter this, they spread awareness about preserving wildlife and nature in schools and nearby villages.
Pamela, “The problem is we expect the government to do everything. Like-minded people, NGOs and other agencies should purchase land do their own bit to conserve the wildlife. We chose Kodagu because it is the micro hotspot of biodiversity in the entire planet.”
They bought around 55 acres of unused and abandoned land from the local farmers who were not using it due to excess of rainfall in Kodagu district of Karnataka. The passion to expand the green grew stronger and they kept buying lands from farmers who weren’t using them. This way the land was used for and also farmers got money to repay their debts as the land was anyway lying idle. As the green cover expanded, the animal and the bird species increased too. The flora of this sanctuary includes hundreds of varieties of indigenous trees, many of which are of medicinal value.
The couple has grown 10-12 acres of coffee and around 15 acres of cardamom on the land and other vegetables are also being cultivated here. They are also involved in organic farming on the same land. The sanctuary, which offers a unique experience to the visitors, runs completely on solar and alternate energy.
The sanctuary also won the “Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year” award by Sanctuary Asia in conjunction with Tour Operators for Tigers in 2014.