Amte’s Animal Ark provides us yet another story where we witness a story of unconditional love between animals and humans. About 350 kilometres from Nagpur lies the village of Hemalkasa in the interiors of Maharashtra. Amte’s Animal Ark is spread across a 50-acre land in Hemalkasa. This ark has been home to several wild animals for the last 45 years.
Be it feeding them or taking care of them, the Amte family does it all. But if you think that only harmless wild animals like the peacocks and deer live here, then you’re wrong. This family isn’t scared of these ferocious beasts like Hyena!
Prakash Amte says “People usually say that Hyenas they eat young children. But you should see them when our grandson comes inside. They can be very dangerous and cruel. That’s what people say. But this guy here is a darling. Dr Amte is not afraid of any one of them, not one bit!”.
I have heard that there lies great strength in love but wild animals becoming one’s family thanks to love is something I’m getting to see for the first time.
Dr Amte’s initiative is not his personal collection or hobby, but pure compassion for the wild animals. To provide the orphaned animals with a new lease of life.
Lok Biradari Prakalp
Dr Prakash and her wife Mandakini has spent their entire life in helping the underprivileged people from Madia Gond. The Madia Gond are tribal people living in Bastar region of the Indian state of Chattisgarh. The people here suffer from abject poverty and naxalism. Seeing the situation of this region Dr Prakash’s father Baba Amte stepped up and set up Lok Biradari Prakalp in Hemalkasa. Baba Amte(Padma Vibushan) is widely known for his work in settling and rehabilitating people suffering from Leprosy. For their contribution to the society, Dr Prakash and her wife has been awarded Padma Shri and Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.
To get more information about this noble initiative, you can visit the website of Lok Biradari Prakalp.
It all started in 1971 when the couple saw a group of tribesmen, who were returning after hunting a monkey. On a closer look, they found out that a baby monkey, who was alive was hanging on to his dead mother. The sight created enormous pain in the hearts of the Amte couple. On being interrogated by Dr Prakash, the tribesman replied that they are going to eat the dead monkey. They have hunted it not for fun or leisure but to feed their community. Dr Prakash asked them that if they can handover the baby monkey to them and get food and clothes in reward. They agreed.
It was on that day that Dr Amte decided that he’d spend his whole life here, in Hemalkasa. Even Today, Madia Gond people kill animals for their survival, but they have stopped hunting animals who’re young. If they found one, they are ultimately brought to the ark in exchange for food and clothes. You can find all sorts of animals in the ark, from ferocious Hyena to calm deer. You can even find leopards, crocodiles, snakes, porcupines, giant squirrel and lots more. There are a total of 90 animals in the Ark.
All these animals live in harmony in the ark. And Dr Prakash being alive goes to prove exactly that. Dr Prakash has never trained any of the animals. We don’t know if Mr Amte is more courageous or compassionate but he sure possesses the values his father imparted to him. Actually, Dr Prakash Amte’s father Murlidhar Devidas(Baba Amte) was a famous social worker who always wanted to do something for the residents of Hemalkasa. His dream was fulfilled by his son by completely revolutionising Hemalkasa.
And you know what the most awesome thing is that Dr Amte wants to keep his culture of the joint family alive even after he passes away. Even his grandchildren have learnt the language of love and compassion. Dr Amte says “It’s really surprising, when my granddaughter who was only six months old, would interact with the animals as I held her.”
The Amte family has not only taught wild animals the language of love but also set an example for India pertaining to humanity. People follow different religions in our country, but as long as such Indians are present amongst us, who deem humanity the greatest religion India will continue to be an unbelievable country.