Pamela and her husband Anil K Malhotra have spent the last 25 years buying denuded and abandoned agricultural land in Karnataka’s Kodagu district and reforesting it. This is an attempt to return the land as a bio-diverse rainforest for elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other creatures.
The couple owns 300 acres of land in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats, which houses the Malhotras’ Save Animals Initiative (SAI) Sanctuary. It’s probably the only private wildlife sanctuary in the country with more than 300 kinds of birds as well as many rare and threatened animal species.
In a report by India Times, things were quite different 1991 when Anil, 75, and Pamela, 64, who run the SAI Sanctuary Trust, came to this part of the country. “When I came here with a friend who suggested I buy this land, it was a wasteland of 55 acres. The owner wanted to sell because he couldn’t grow coffee or anything else here,” said Anil, an alumnus of Doon School, who worked in the real estate and restaurant business in the US before moving to India. “For me and Pamela, this was what we were looking for all our life,” he added.
They sold their property in Hawaii, bought the first 55 acres at the foothills of the Brahmagiri range and began afforestation work. There were legal complications as many land documents were not in order and many farmers had debts to be settled.
“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,” said Anil. Today, SAI Sanctuary covers approximately 300 acres, and draws naturalists and scientists doing research on the different animal species as well as hundreds of indigenous trees and plants, which have medicinal value as well.