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The rapid disappearance of nature and wildlife has weakened the bond which humans have nurtured with them since ages. Under such situations, the possibility of a child interacting with an animal has become rare. However, Sanjeev Pednekar, a conservationist hailing from Bengaluru is working towards building a sanctuary, one-of-its-kind where kids or adults could observe and interact with animals away from the hustle-bustle of urban settings. Located just a few kilometres away from Bengaluru, it is home to nearly 300 rescued animals and even provides a friendly space to young kids for building relationships with animals.
Founded in 2017 by Sanjeev Pednekar, this sanctuary has been a learning platform not just for visitors but also for the team. Over the past two years, it has grown into a successful venture. With young volunteers at work in the sanctuary, Sanjeev shares that it has immensely helped them in shaping their leadership qualities. Now they confidently manage nearly 50 families visiting the sanctuary usually on weekends. An avid animal lover since childhood, Sanjeev abides by the fact that classroom-based education doesn’t let a child explore his inner curiosity and experiential learning is the need of the hour. He aims to spread the message of peaceful co-existence with animals especially amid the urban people who rarely get a chance to interact with them and firmly advocates conservation as the only way forward.
In a conversation with The Logical Indian, Sanjeev shares, “We started Prani with a rescued Pony – Esha, and now it is home to 400 animals and birds from 40 different species. You get to interact with our horses, ponies, rabbits, ducks, geese, roosters and many others. In our aviary, there are nearly 100 birds to interact with and it is a unique experience in its own. Every animal has to be handled in a different way and we try sharing it with kids or adults who visit us. With this, they learn compassion, patience, being gentle and so much more in the entire process.”
Also, a herpetologist by profession, Sanjeev has interned with Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) and worked with many leading organizations for the conservation of wildlife. He has even worked with BBMP’s forest cell for rescuing wild animals like leopards, snakes and elephants. With his sanctuary, he has been able to educate others about animals, birds and mutual co-existence with them. Making others sensitive towards the conservation of wildlife and building a bond with them has been one of the main mottoes of this organization. He feels kids are the best visitors in his sanctuary as they’re more open to new experiences. The excitement of the kids on interacting with his pets over there fills him with happiness and makes him giggle.
“We have tie-ups with more than 120 schools and few NGOs through which we provide day visits and take the students around the farm. The students are given a 3-hour tour where they get detailed information about the animals and birds under the supervision of the team where they can touch and feed our Pranis. The information facilitated along with interaction leaves an everlasting impression on these kids. Overall, it results in a wholesome experience for them. For instance, showing them the life stages of a butterfly will help them to learn more than what they would otherwise see in their textbooks.” shares Sanjeev with The Logical Indian.
It is even open to visitors on weekends. School kids can visit with their family to spend their free time on the farm. They have the capacity to host three to four families for camping activities. The activities include: bathing an animal, being a part of their feeding sessions, night walks to understand about nocturnal animals, bird watching and a small hike up the neighbouring hills. It not only leaves the kid with a learning experience during the short stay but also gives them a chance to reconnect with their parents and build their childhood memories. They have also collaborated with government schools for special kids as well as for underprivileged kids for facilitating a life-changing experience, for which the school kids aren’t charged with any fees.
Sharing the story of a shy kid who visited Prani, Sanjeev narrates to The Logical Indian, “A five-year-old kid named Sarthak, who stopped speaking to anyone other than his friends, had become extremely introverted in his behaviour. Several doctors and specialists were unable to point out the root cause. His parents just happened to come across Prani and wanted to spend the weekend with us. The moment he stepped into the farm he ran towards Maya (the horse). The laughter, the excitement, him running around the farm speaking to all our animals was an emotional moment for parents and even for us. Ever since that experience, Sarthak has visited us 5 times and we consider Prani to be his home just as it is for us.”
With limited land space, they have not been able to provide a home to many other rescued animals and are looking forward to expand it in the near future. Overall, working towards increasing environmental literacy through outdoor and experiential learning is one of their main objectives and they’ve been striving hard for cultivating a positive temperament towards animals. Ultimately, it is tolerance and responsible citizenship that they are after. The Logical Indian salutes the efforts of Prani- the pet sanctuary for working towards the conservation of our wildlife and educating young minds about the same.
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