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Female Vigilante Group Has Been Defending This Indian Forest for 20 Years

A group of 75 female volunteers from India’s Odisha state has spent every day of the last 20 years patrolling a 75-hectare forest to protect it from woodcutters and timber smugglers.

In 1999, the eastern state of Odisha was ravaged by a supercyclone. People lost their homes, their crops and had to go without food or clothing for several days. But many in Gundalba, a small village in the Mahanadi delta of Puri district, realized that the only reason they were still alive was thanks to a forest and mangrove area that had shielded them from the brunt of the devastation. They knew they had to protect it at all costs, but with all the men busy rebuilding the village after the supercyclone, the task of watching over the forest fell to the women. They quickly formed a vigilante group and  have been taking turns patrolling the forested area in search of timber smugglers and woodcutters for the last 20 years.

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Couple Spend 25 Years Turning Barren Patch of Land into Paradise of Biodiversity

In 1991, Anil and Pamela Malhotra bought a 55 acres of unused farmland in Karnataka, India, and started planting native trees on it. Over the last 25 years, their small forest has turned into a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary that hundreds of endangered plants, animals and birds call home.

Anil and Pamela met and married in New Jersey, USA, during the 1960s. They both shared a love for wildlife, and after visiting Hawaii on their honeymoon, they fell in love with the archipelago’s lush forests and fascinating fauna. They bought some land and decided to settle there. “That is where we learnt the value of forests and realized that despite threats of global warming no serious efforts were being made to save forests for the future,” Anil said.

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