When most people are looking for a new home, they have a lot of factors to consider. Is it safe? Will I be able to make a living here? Are these surroundings something I would be okay waking up to every day? While usually, the beauty of a location will inspire visitors to reside in a country, in the case of Anil and Pamela Malhotra, it was the opposite. The couple, who was visiting India for the funeral of Anil’s father, was actually distraught by the terrible state of nature they found in the city of Haridwar and were determined to make a positive difference.
“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,” Anil tells the India Times. The couple maintained a similar ideology when looking for land to settle on. Instead of searching feverishly for high-quality land, in 1991, the couple was able to locate a 55-acre plot that a farmer was selling because he could no longer successfully grow on it. According to Anil and Pamela, the land was a bit of a mess but clearly had some potential.
In the last 25 years, this one purchase has set off a chain of others, and now the couple has acquired 300 acres worth of barren land in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats, and have spent their days reforesting it. The land houses Malhotras’ Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary, which is believed to likely be the only private wildlife sanctuary in the country with more than 300 kinds of birds, as well as rare and threatened animal species.
Both Pamela and Anil loved nature since they were very young and this love was only increased when they lived in Hawaii prior to the move to India. “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,” Anil shared with India Times.
Well, the two are definitely doing their fair part for the environment, now! When they discovered that landholders on the other side of the stream on their land were using pesticides, they made it a point to buy up their land and stop the destruction at the source.
After a lot of TLC, the land has been completely transformed and is as lush as ever!
“Once we bought the land, we allowed the forest to regenerate. We planted native species where necessary and allowed nature to take care of the rest,” says Anil.
Because of the good health of the land, it is no surprise that animals began residing in it shortly after the regrowth. Pamela and Anil have had their fair share of poaching scares, but after setting up camera traps, they have been able to keep most threats at bay.
Now, scientists and researchers come from all over to study the different animal species as well as the hundreds of indigenous trees and plants, which have medicinal value as well.
The inspiring couple’s story has had such a tremendous impact on the surrounding society, that a film is being made to document their amazing work. Watch the trailer below!
In today’s society, it’s so easy to see an area in complete disarray and decide that it is “too far gone” or not worth the effort to rebuild. Pamela and Anil are a wonderful example of the extraordinary things that can happen from doing the exact opposite and seeing potential where others see destruction. We could all take a page out of this couple’s book and make a positive impact on the world. To learn more about the SAI sanctuary, click here.
Lead image source: Miles to the Wild