Prani is both a home for rescued animals and a habitat classroom for kids.
Swarnami Mondal reports.
For all the animal lovers among us, imagine this -- you come across a stray kitten on the road, you rescue it, bring it back home and bring a small change to this world.
There are plenty out there who want to take care of animals and make a difference in their lives, but how many of us can turn that into reality?
Sanjeev Pednekar from Bengaluru is doing the same, but on a far larger scale through his venture Prani.
Founded in 2017 by Pednekar and his ecologist friend Karthik Prabhu, the Prani sanctuary is spread across four acres of land situated at Bengaluru's Kanakpura Road.
It provides a safe space for children to interact with animals, develop an interest in wildlife and sustainability, in a setting away from the bustle of city life. Prani has recorded a footfall of 1,000 visitors since it opened.
With young volunteers at work at Prani, this place also works as a learning platform aiming to spread the message of peaceful cohabitation of animals amid urban people.
Pednekar imparts a lesson or two about conservation among the visitors while piquing their curiosity about wildlife.
"It began with rescuing a pony, Esha, and now we are a 400-member strong family of rescued animals. Visitors can interact with rabbits, ponies, ducks, geese, hamsters, roosters, turtles, snakes, goats, among others," he says.
"By interacting with these animals, adults and kids can get to learn compassion, patience and much more during the entire process."
Pednekar is a herpetologist by profession and has worked with many conservationists, wildlife rescuers including the Bengaluru civic body, BBMP.
From catching tadpoles at 10 to rescuing various animals across Karnataka, Pednekar found his calling in conservation and grew up to believe in the idea that human beings should forge bonds of love with animals.
When asked how Prani functions, he said, "People can spend two hours in the sanctuary, take a guided tour and then we take them around explaining tips which they can use in their daily lives to imbibe bits of sustainability and co-existence."
"Through this venture," Pednekar says, "we are trying to build nature bit by bit which we humankind has destroyed systematically through the years. Going back to nature and bonding with animals is the only way forward."
Visitors can also participate in a hands-on gardening session, watch biogas being made from waste, learn animal husbandry, snakebite mitigation, and naturalist training. The sanctuary also has option of overnight stay.
Prani also collaborates with schools. Children come visiting the sanctuary, the syllabus is explained to the children using non-conventional methods.
For example, students are taken to the butterfly garden and with practical examples they can understand the life cycle of a butterfly than by rote learning from books.
What sort of animals does this sanctuary house and how do they find which animal needs to be rescued? Pednekar says, "One pregnant pony was left at a gutter to die, we rescued her and now she lives with her foal at Prani."
The youngest member at Prani is Kavana, an eight year old who is being homeschooled at the sanctuary and has recently rescued and rehabilitated a blind dog.
Fending over 350 animals under one roof is an uphill task. On asking what helps fund the upkeep of a sanctuary, Pednekar said, "We charge a fee of Rs 400 from visitors. Providing quality time and care is our motto, the funds raised thus helps us in fending for the animals we house."
Photographs: Kind courtesy Prani, The Pet Sanctuary/Facebook
Production: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com