Dr. A.K. Malhotra and Pamela Malhotra own the SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary, the only Indian private wildlife sanctuary, which has been protecting the wildlife and replanting the forest since 1991.
The once abandoned lands, now, have over 300 acres with over 200 endangered species of plants and animals, including Asian elephants and Bengal tigers.
SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary is located in the Kodagu district in the Indian state of Karnataka. SAI Sanctuary is the only private sanctuary in India. It is spread over an area of 1.2 square km. It is managed by SAI Sanctuary Trust. SAI Sanctuary trust won the Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year Award – 2014 for Eco-Tourism that protects forests and wildlife.
The NRI duo behind this amazing SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust came India to give shape to their dreams of preservation and protection of nature and wildlife. They bought around 55 acres of unused and abandoned land from the farmers who were not using it due to excess of rainfall in Kodagu district of Karnataka.
“When we first came here, most of the lands that were sold to us, were abandoned lands,” Says Pamela.
“Abandoned rice fields, coffee, and cardamom fields as well. A lot of deforestation had taken place. And that took a lot, a lot of care and energy and time and years to bring it back.”
“We both feel a tremendous amount of joy when we walk through the sanctuary.”
“I’ve never felt this kind of joy in anything else that I’ve done in my life.”
The couple is desperately trying to save the environment of the south of India, where the sanctuary is located. The location has endured a dramatic decrease in forest cover, from 86% in the 1970s to 16% today.
Kodagu district in South India is suffering from extreme deforestation. But Pamela and her husband, Anil Malhotra, decided to fight and co-founded SAI Sanctuary in 1991. Since then, they have been replanting trees and expanding the sanctuary.
Anil, 76 and Pamela, 65 met and married in New Jersey, US, in the 1960s, had a love for nature from their childhood. When they went on their honeymoon to Hawaii, they fell in love with its beauty and decided to settle there. "That is where we learnt the value of forests and realized that despite threats of global warming no serious efforts were being made to save forests for the future," says Anil, an alumnus of Doon School, who worked in the real estate and restaurant business in the US before moving to India.
When the Malhotras came to India for the funeral of Anil's father in 1986, the pollution in Haridwar horrified them. "There was so much deforestation, the timber lobby was in charge, and the river was polluted. And no one seemed to care. That was when we decided to do something to reclaim the forests in India."
The Malhotras urge the business sector to use their CSR funds to help protect, preserve, and expand the forests (which are our watershed areas) for the sake of all of India.
"What we have tried to put into practice in our own small way is the wisdom of the Kodagu/Coorg forefathers who recognized the critical need to protect their forests and the wildlife they contain in order to ensure fertile soils and abundant water supplies year-round to yield bountiful harvests from their lands" says Dr. Anil Malhotra.
Video Credits: SAI Sanctuary
Official Website: The SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary