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India's First Female Elephant Mahout, Parbati Baruah Honoured with Padma Shri: A Look at Her Journey

Parbati Baruah, who is India's first female elephant mahout, an Indian term for an elephant tamer and caretaker, has received the fourth highest honour, Padma Shri lately. In the man's world, the 67-year-old has been shunning stereotypes with her proficiency.

Aysha Anam
India's First Female Elephant Mahout Parbati Baruah (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MIB)
India's First Female Elephant Mahout Parbati Baruah (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/MIB)

In a groundbreaking achievement, Parbati Baruah, the trailblazing 67-year-old from the royal lineage of the Rajahs of Gauripur, has shattered gender stereotypes as India's first female elephant mahout, earning her the esteemed Padma Shri, the nation's fourth-highest honor.

Parbati's journey with elephants began in her childhood, a passion she embraced wholeheartedly. Seizing her first elephant at the tender age of 14, she embarked on a lifelong mission to redefine societal norms in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Her expertise transcends geographical boundaries, as she has been summoned to diverse landscapes, from tea plantations to forests and rural areas spanning West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam. Parbati's unique skills have made her a sought-after caretaker, demonstrating her proficiency in understanding and managing these majestic creatures.

Beyond mere caretaking, Parbati has emerged as a beacon of change in the realm of human-elephant conflict. Applying scientific practices, she has collaborated with three state governments, contributing significantly to the mitigation and capture of wild elephants. Her commitment to addressing this complex issue showcases not only her prowess as an elephant mahout but also her dedication to wildlife conservation.

Rooted in her father's teachings, Parbati commenced her journey at 14, and over four decades, her relentless efforts have played a pivotal role in saving and shaping the lives of rogue tuskers. Despite her privileged background, she has consciously chosen a simple life, devoting herself to the well-being of these complex yet playful creatures.

Parbati Baruah's remarkable story transcends gender barriers and highlights her unwavering dedication to the harmonious coexistence of humans and elephants. Her Padma Shri is not just an individual accolade but a recognition of her transformative impact on wildlife conservation and gender equality in a field where she has carved her own path.

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