Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband, Anil Malhotra, own Sai Sanctuary, the only private wildlife sanctuary in India and have been replanting and protecting forests and wildlife since it’s foundation in 1991. Today, SAI Sanctuary covers over 300 acres of wildlife that are home to more than 200 globally endangered species of plants and animals, including Asian elephants and Bengal tigers.
“When we first came here, most of the lands that were sold to us, were abandoned lands,” Pamela told Great Big Story. “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.”
The part of India where the sanctuary is located, Kodagu district, has experienced a dramatic decrease in forest cover – from 86% in the 1970s to 16% today. Pamela explained that this has disastrous effects on rainfall patterns and water supply not only in the district but throughout the south of India.
You could say that the couple is piecing back together the environment by ensuring that the forests can provide shelter for the animals, and the animals can in return keep the forests healthy. “We both feel a tremendous amount of joy when we walk through the sanctuary,” said Pamela. “I’ve never felt this kind of joy in anything else that I’ve done in my life.”