Animal lover Sasha Ramnanan-Hosein paid a hunter $2,500 for a captive male deer with a rope tied around his neck. She bought the beady-eyed buck to prevent him from being slaughtered, and his meat sold at $100 a pound. That was two years ago and the start of a wildlife sanctuary for Ramnanan-Hosein, 39, and her husband, Zaid Hosein, 43, on their three-acre farm at Connector Road, Carlsen Field, known in the farming community as the Enchanted Evergreen Estate.
The sanctuary is home to almost a dozen orphaned wildlife animals comprising deer, agouti, manicou, and lappe that live in large enclosures on the mega farm.
The couple, who has a teenage son, also provides shelter to 16 stray cats either abandoned by their owners or found injured.
In addition to 200 goats, sheep, ducks and chickens, the family has a tilapia pond, dozens of fruit trees, an array of herbs, short-term crops, a beautiful garden, a hydroponic system and a relaxing area to picnic on their farm.
The estate is visited by primary school pupils who learn about animals, wildlife, and the benefits of growing and eating healthy foods. The pupils are even given seedlings and baby chickens to encourage them to get involved in agriculture, which Ramnanan-Hosein believes is dying and needs to have new life breathe into it.
As a child, Ramnanan-Hosein admitted, she always had a special love for animals.
“When I was younger, I honestly wanted to become a vet. But when I realise part of a vet’s job is to euthanise animals, I changed my mind. I don’t have the stomach to do that.”
Growing up, she recalled, she was always picking up puppies and kittens that were dumped at the side of the road to care for them.
“I just couldn’t leave them there to suffer. I hate when people ill-treat animals,” she said.
That deep love for animals has stayed with Ramnanan-Hosein to this day.
This is evident at her farm which she started 12 years ago with her husband.
The couple first started rearing a few ducks and chickens.
They then branched off into goat and cow production primarily for their milk.
“We sell our animals only for breeding purposes and dairy production, not to be killed for its meat,” Ramnanan-Hosein said.
The couple admitted that they treat their animals as family and call each one by name.
Two years ago, she said, her heart broke for a deer who was being sold by a farmer during the hunting season.
“My heart just broke when I saw the deer’s eyes which were crying out for help. I fell in love with the deer. I know if I didn’t rescue this animal he would have been killed and his meat sold for $100 a pound.”
To save the animal from being slaughtered, she paid the hunter $2,500, and named the animal Jolly. The next day, she erected a large enclosure for the 70-pound deer that has now grown very attached to and fond of her.
Last year, to Ramnanan-Hosein’s surprise, a friend gave her a female deer as a gift.
“From there, our wildlife family started to grow. We got a few lappes, manicous and three agoutis.”
One of the agoutis was purchased for $500. He, too, would have been killed for his meat.
She has obtained permits from the Ministry of Agriculture for these protected animals.
“A few wild meat lovers have offered to buy the agouti and lappe, but I refused to sell. I tell these people these animals are not for sale, they are my pets.”
Ramnanan-Hosein has two rams for sale but would not sell to just anyone.
“A guy came to buy the rams for prayers, and I told him no. I am waiting until I get a buyer who wants them for breeding purposes.”
The wildlife animals are kept away from the herds and stray cats.
The cats which are spayed and neutered to control their population roam freely on the farm or relax in a cage designed with beds and steps.
“I gave some of the cats to people who wanted them as pets and I regretted doing that. When I went back to check on the cats the owners did not have them, saying that the cats ran away and they could not find them. I stopped finding homes for them.”
The cats, she said, are safer with her.
During the pandemic, Ramnanan-Hosein rescued several cats with collars that were thrown at the side of the road by their owners.
“You would see them running all over the road confused. So, you know somebody just threw them out.”
Although she has two dogs, she would put dog chow every day in front of her gate to feed the stray dogs that show up.
The cost to maintain and provide veterinary services for the animals, she said, does not come cheap.
While Zaid would fork out $10,000 a month to maintain his livestock, she spends $700 every month on cat chow alone.
“At one time the cat bill was $500 a week,” said Zaid, who operates a small stockpile on his farm.
“My husband threatened to put me out because I was taking in too many stray cats,” she laughed.
Ramnanan-Hosein said a few weeks ago they had a power outage and someone entered their farm to steal Jolly, who became erratic and severely injured one of his eyes.
“Jolly’s vet bill was $2,500. At the end of the month, I don’t check my overall bill. I believe in the saying ‘It is better to give than receive.’ Ramnanan-Hosein, who earns her income selling manure, exotic plants, fresh cow and goat’s milk and clothing, believes “The more you give and help these unfortunate and suffering animals, the more you will receive.”