A camping getaway outside Mumbai is the perfect choice for all you animal lovers
As far as camping getaways go, this one ticks all the right boxes — starlit conversations by the riverside, meals by bonfire, and tents to hang your boots up in, after a day of trekking and other outdoor fun. But when you throw 160 dogs, 80 cats, 11 donkeys, eight horses and a pig into the mix, it makes it a campsite with a difference. The brainchild of World For All Animal Care & Adoptions, an animal welfare NGO, Wanderknots, a trip organiser, and The Spunk Society, Paw Trails is a camping excursion that aims to raise awareness about animal welfare, while giving campers a memorable experience.
The highlight is a trip to a unique animal farm, located just beyond Karjat, and a few minutes away from the campsite. Here, campers are invited to interact with and help care for the farm's animals, many of them elderly and/or disabled. Unlike several other rescue shelters, the animals are allowed to roam free, without cages or leashes. The idea, says Taronish Bulsara, co-founder and president of World For All, is to give these animals a forever home, where they are treated with respect and love.
Love without bounds
World For All was founded in 2010 and has since undertaken a host of initiatives aimed at animal welfare. These include Indian breed adoptions, rescuing injured and ill animals in the city and its suburbs, animal birth control (the NGO runs the city's largest cat sterilization programme) and Teach Co-exist, a series of awareness sessions about animal welfare. "We decided to look into options for a shelter for rescued animals when a puppy we had saved had to undergo an emergency amputation for one of its legs. While the puppy swiftly recovered from the surgery, we realised that we could not leave it to fend for itself on the streets after it had spent a month indoors. We started a page on Facebook to get the puppy adopted. The response we received was overwhelming," Bulsara recalls.
"We came across several individuals and families who were keen on adopting Indian breed dogs, in a bid to discourage unethical breeding. But there was no real platform for these individuals, so we decided to look into options and that's when came across Probably Paradise. It is shelter located just beyond Karjat, which is owned by Roxanne Davur. She had given up a successful career in the hospitality industry to establish a shelter that would give injured, abandoned and disabled animals a loving and secure home. We are in the process of adopting Probably Paradise so that we can continue her work in this area. The farm is unique in its focus on caring for animals who would have otherwise been put down," he explains.
Camping for a cause
Initiatives such as Paw Trails play an important role in enabling the NGO to raise funds for the animals. All profits from the camp will go towards meeting food, medicine and other basic needs of the animals, the costs of which can be quite substantial. The farm is still in the process of securing basic amenities.
"In summers, regular water supply becomes a challenge as we are entirely reliant on tanker water. In the rains, the dogs and other animals tend to crowd indoors to stay dry. This can lead to some quarrels for space! We are in the process of building sheds for them," he shares. Many of the animals, he adds, who were sent to the farm to live out their final days in peace, have demonstrated remarkable progress, which adds a dimension to the importance of safe spaces, such as the shelter.
Taronish Bulsara and Divya Pal
Divya Pai, founder of WanderKnots agrees, "At Paw Trails, we encourage participants to spend time with the animals and better understand them. A good portion of the trip is dedicated to interactive sessions, including interesting games, to educate our participants about animal welfare. Further, we hope to encourage more people to adopt, not shop. At the same time, there's also a lot of fun to be had by playing and interacting with our animals."
What to carry
- Toiletries, blanket, cutlery, drinking water, and mosquito repellent
- Littering the campsite and hurting or disturbing the animals
- 3 meals
- Tent accommodation
- Camping expertise
- Evening tea, trip to animal farm
- Session on animal care by a certified teacher followed by an interactive question and answer session.
ON October 20 and 21; November 3 and 4 and 17 and 18; December 1 and 2 and 15 and 16
COST Rs 2,200
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