The Saviors of the Tribe: Hemalkasa’s Animal Ark
How many times have we come across puppies running on a busy road helter- skelter at the risk of getting hit by an oncoming vehicle? But very few of us stop in our tracks to colleges & offices to rescue the poor pups from the traffic & return them to a safe place nearby. Many of these stray pups actually fall prey to traffic due to lack of proper animal shelters. And in our day to day routine, we even forget about them the moment we step into our offices or homes.
However, one particular couple was so moved by the fate of a baby monkey whose mother was killed by jungle tribe that they decided to start an animal shelter at their own home. The kind-hearted couple was none other than Magsaysay award winners Dr Prakash & Dr Mandakini Amte of Hemalkasa.
The work of Dr Prakash & Dr Manda towards the upliftment of the Madia Tribe is legendary. For two doctors who could have practiced in any city & made money, these two were truly Godsent for the tribesmen of Hemalkasa. They not only established a hospital to take care of the tribe’s health needs but also provided the treatments free of cost.
The interesting story of their Animal Ark started when in one evening while out on a walk they came across a female monkey killed by the tribesmen for food. Her little one was still alive & Dr Amte requested the tribe to let them take it in exchange for some food. Madia Tribes used to hunt wild animals in the jungles of Hemalkasa for food since time immemorial. These tribes in Gadchiroli were malnourished, wore no clothes and had no access to education or healthcare. They did not know how to farm lands & were completely dependent on the forest for their food & other needs.
Therefore, it was a welcome change when Dr Amte convinced the tribe to not kill the young ones & bring them to him in exchange for clothes, food & medicines. Very soon, Dr Amte’s home was filled with babies of jackals, leopards, jungle cats, peacocks, lizards, crocodiles, macaques, sloth bear, civets, porcupine, black bucks, antelopes, and also varieties of pythons & snakes.
Dr Amte’s children & even grandchildren have all grown up fearless seeing all these adopted animals roaming freely around the house. At one point in time, this missionary couple actually had sheltered 300 animals in & around their home. Later on because of government agencies hue & cry, Animal Ark was created as an independent entity with proper caged shelters for all its friendly wild inmates.
Dr Prakash & Dr Mandakini Amte’s selfless work not only touched & improved the lives of Madia Tribe but also that of the animals in those jungles.
Over the years, Dr Amte’s Hemalkasa project completely reformed & educated the tribes. They showed them ways to get food by agriculture instead of hunting.
Their children were educated & have become doctors, teachers & engineers. The health of the tribe has improved as Dr Amte’s hospital became more equipped over the years.
Even today, despite winning the prestigious Magsaysay award, both Dr Prakash & Dr Manda Amte spend their full time dedicated in the service of these tribes. Their children & grandchildren have continued to lend their hands to their parent’s vision for a better community.
Volunteers from far away are drawn to their unique project to pitch in & donate their sweat for a few days. The Amte family has proved beyond a doubt that all animals whether tame or wild just want to be loved.
Dr Amte’s Hemalkasa project is an excellent example of selfless social work done steadily over 4 decades to improve the lives of those who share the planet with all of us.
Tags: Animal Conservation Project, Baba Amte's Hemalkasa, Biodiversity Conservation Volunteering, Hemalkasa Animal Ark, Mandakini Amte of Hemalkasa, Volunteer At An Animal Shelter, Volunteering for Animal Rights