With forest cover in the world going scarce with each passing day, getting to visit a 300 acres wide wild life sanctuary is a whole new experience by itself. What’s great is the back story behind this vast forest cover located in Karnataka’s Kodagu district in India. Known by the name Sai Sanctuary, it is managed by the Sai Sanctuary Trust that won Wildlife and Tourism Initiative for the Year 2014 in the Eco-Tourism sector that protects wildlife and forests.
The Duo behind Sai Sanctuary
The face behind this change is an NRI duo named Pamela Malhotra and Dr. A.K. Malhotra. The couple initially invested in the region by the Himalayas; however, the northern periphery of India has a cap of 12 Acres which made them travel down south.
With time, they gave shape to the dream of protection and preservation of wildlife and nature. Together, the couple purchased 55 acres of abandoned and unused land from South-India based farmers that weren’t using it given the excessive rainfall in the Kodagu district in Karnataka. This land was actually owned by a local man who was named Subaya.
How things progressed?
The couple’s passion to expand this green cover started getting stronger as days passed by. Together they kept buying sections of land from the farmers that didn’t use it for farming purposes. This way, the land came into use while the farmers got a way to repay the debts. With time, the forest cover of 55 acres turned into 300 acres.
The land had native trees already in place, so the couple planned to retain the same while planting many more by their own. The rule here to be followed was very simple. No chopping of trees, no interference of humans, and no poachers allowed in the vicinity.
Apart from the presence of a rare species of mongoose that is black-tipped, the Sai Sanctuary is a safe habitat for animals and birds that seek haven from the deteriorating condition of forest cover in the country. Bordered by the presence of Nagarhole, Brahmagiri, and Bandipur forest reserves, the Sai Sanctuary acts as the buffer between villages and primary forest cover providing home for Asian elephants.
How scientific agriculture works for future?
When the couple first arrived at Coorg in the year 1991, the entire area was being used for cultivation of cardamom as the primary crop. Given the fact that it is a water and shade loving crop, most of the native trees survived while providing shade, raising groundwater table, regulating temperature, holding water, and attracting rainfall. Ancient teachings have mandated at least 25 percent of land to be under a dense forest cover leading to moist soil, good rainfall, and fertile soil. The idea was to help maintain the forest cover while dealing with issues such as water shortage, erratic patterns or rainfall, rising temperature in the area, as well as drought-like summer conditions.
What’s there in the Sanctuary?
The sanctuary houses a spectacular river that runs through the middle of the forest with several species of snakes and fishes with King Cobra being a main part of the forest population. The thick forest cover also attracts beautiful bird species such as Hornbill.
The Sai Sanctury houses 305+ bird species that tend to visit this place on a regular basis. The couple has installed various cameras all across the sanctuary to keep poachers away while identifying new addition of species.
The couple has invested their time in proper organic farming while providing a unique visitor experience to the people visiting this sanctuary as it runs completely with solar & alternate forms of energy. During days with heavy rainfall, the sanctuary has 3 small windmills that meet the requirement for provisioning electricity all around the area. When the idea of this sanctuary started, the couple invested their own money. However, today Sai Sanctuary is a registered Non-Profit trust that runs over donations that are tax exempted.
Apart from the issue with funds, another challenge that comes is patrolling the entirety of the sanctuary. Given the fact that this area is particularly large, it is difficult for the couple to track the poachers. This is why; they opted for spreading awareness with regards to wildlife preservation in the villages and schools nearby. Today, the sanctuary is a host to animals such as hyena, leopards, wild boar, asian elephants, Sambhar, and Bengal tigers.
SAI Sanctuary Trust, Theralu Village & Post, South Kodagu District, Karnataka, India (Pin code: 571249)
How to reach Sai Sanctuary?
The closest airport to Sai Sanctuary is the Mangalore Airport located at a distance of approximately 184 kilometres while the Mangalore Central Railway Station is 180 kilometres approximately. To reach from the railway station or airport to Sai Sanctuary, you need to book a private cab or opt for the local bus services.
Sai Sanctuary is an absolutely gorgeous place with massive hectares covered with silver oak, coffee plants, medicinal plants, and spices. If you want to experience the best of nature, you can easily book a jungle trek, cycling trip, or fishing trips to this sanctuary. So, make some time from your busy routine and make sure you plan a relaxing trip to Sai Sanctuary.