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Couple turns 300 acres of land into India’s first private wildlife sanctuary

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Pamela and Anil Malholtra

Pamela and Anil Malholtra

KARNATAKA India, (Diya TV) — Pamela and Anil Malholtra have spent the past 25 years of their lives buying denuded and abandoned agricultural land in Karnataka’s Kodagu district and reforesting it. Now, the couple has converted a recent purchase of 300 acres of land into what is being widely considered the first private wildlife sanctuary in all of India.

The land sits in Brahmagiri, a mountain range in the Western Ghats. Stretching almost an entire square mile, the land houses the Malhotras’ Save Animals Initiative Sanctuary, a new safe haven for a country with more than 300 types of bird species, and several rare and other threatened and endangered animals. Recently, a herd of 10 elephants was spotted strolling through the sanctuary, but it isn’t all about wildlife, the land itself is the foundation of plant life that is centuries old.

“That tree is about 700 years old and draws different types of birds,” Pamela said, as she proudly showcased one of the largest trees on the property.

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The couple’s crusade to reinvigorate the land to a bio-diverse rainforest for elephants, tigers, leopards, deer, snakes, birds and hundreds of other creatures hasn’t been an easy journey. When the two arrived to this region of the country in 1991, land owners were more concerned about crops and what they could grow, than preservation.

“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. “For me and Pamela, this was what we were looking for all our life.”

They were inspired while visiting India in 1986 for the funeral of Anil’s father — 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,” Anil said.

The couple soon realized their goal of obtaining land in north India was a far stretch, so they turned around and went south. Anil’s friends warned him that if he was looking to invest in land for a return, he should look to buy somewhere outside of Brahmagiri. There would be no profit margin to justify his investment, his friends told him.

“We were not looking for money. Early on, we realized that shortage of fresh water will be a concern for India and the rest of the world. Acquisition, protection and reclamation of forested lands and wildlife habitat, where vital water sources have their origin, is the only way to save ourselves,” Anil said.

After the couple sold property they owned in Hawaii, they bought their first 55 acres at the foothills of the Brahmagiri range and began afforestation work. Soon, they realized there was no use nurturing a forest on one side of the stream when landholders on the other side were using pesticides for cultivation. So, at every opportunity, they began buying more and more land along the stream as soon as it became available. “Many of the farmers considered their holdings ‘wasteland,’ as very little grew on it and were happy to get money,” Anil said.

Hurdle after hurdle

Soon after the purchase of the land, the Malholtra’s then began their legal struggles against financiers and the government — several of the land owners they purchased acreage from had standing debt which remained unsettled. If the government wasn’t enough to tackle, they also had to combat poaching and hunting from the locals who lived in the area. Almost immediately labeled as outsiders, many asked “what this couple from the U.S.” was doing in their community.

“A priest of a temple located on a nearby hillock was killed by a tiger and villagers were afraid. We helped them rebuild the temple at a safer location, but our condition was that they’d give up hunting and poaching,” Pamela said. “When they asked us why, we asked them why they worshipped Hanuman and Ganesha but killed animals. It worked,” she said.

Moving forward, the Malholtra’s worked hand-in-hand with the local government and forest department to set up camera traps to keep poachers away. “There are times I have fought poachers with logs,” Pamela said.

Now, the land serves as a studying ground for naturalists and scientists from all over the world who come to observe and research on the different animal species as well as hundreds of indigenous trees and plants, which have medicinal value as well.

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Redacted Mueller report, detailing Russian election meddling, released

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Redacted Mueller Report

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — A redacted version of the Mueller report is now public. The 448 page document is the result of a two year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Democrats say the report shows President Trump tried to obstruct justice. But Trump’s campaign in a statement says otherwise.

Read the redacted report here.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the Indian Air Force air strike in response to the Pulwama terror attack in February, reversing claims made by other officials after the strike.

Anita Malik announced she is running once again for Arizona’s 6th Congressional District seat. She fell short last year. But this time, she will face additional competition, as fellow Democrat Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (Ti-per-neh-knee) as also running for this seat.

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Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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U.S. stance on Iran affects Indian oil imports

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Iran Indian Oil Imports

WASHINGTON, DC (Diya TV) — With the Trump administration declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, India is now dealing with the ramifications when it comes to buying Iranian oil since tough sanctions will be imposed on anyone dealing with the IRGC.

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And Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West is facing criticism for wearing a traditional Indian maang tika on Instagram. We’ll explain.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal talks about her son, while urging congress to vote for Equality Act

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Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat

In remarks supporting the #EqualityAct that would expand federal civil rights protections to the #LGBT community, Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal disclosed her 22 year old child was gender non-conforming. It was a statement she didn’t plan to make, but one she shared because she wanted her colleagues to “legislate with love and not fear.”

Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat is on a four-day visit to the United States. He’s meeting with senior American military officials on an effort to increase military cooperation between the two nations.

India and the U.S. set up their first secure communication link between India’s naval headquarters and America’s Central and Pacific Naval Commands. The pact was formed last year and allows both nations to share real-time operational intelligence.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (Ti-per-neh-knee), who as a Democrat ran a competitive race in Arizona’s 8th district in 2018, is running for Congress again. This time, it will be in Arizona’s 6th district against Republican Congressman David Schweikert, who is under an ethics investigation for campaign misspending.

And California Assemblymember Ash Kalra presented House Resolution 18 in official recognition of Vaisakhi by the Golden State. They also held the second annual Turban Day at the State Capitol.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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