President Murmu honored Parbati Barua with Padma Shri for elephant conservation

Guwahati: President Draupadi Murmu honored Assam’s Parvati Barua with Padma Shri in New Delhi on Thursday.

Parbati Barua received the award for her outstanding work in social work, especially her pioneering work in elephant conservation and wildlife management. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in India.

Coming from the Gauripur royal family of Assam, Barua became India’s first female elephant mahout and a strong supporter of animal welfare.

Born on March 14, 1953, she showed a deep love for elephants and the forest from a young age. She broke traditional gender roles by entering a field that was mostly for men.

Parbati started her journey at the age of 14 by taming her first elephant in the Kachugaon forests of Kokrajhar district. They have since tamed over 500 elephants using traditional methods such as “fair hunting” to capture wild elephants without tranquilizer guns.

Apart from his success in taming elephants, Barua has played a significant role in reducing human-elephant conflict in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

He has worked closely with forest officials to provide herbal remedies and training to mahouts and field staff, which has greatly helped in resolving wildlife related issues.

Baruah has made a global impact through his participation in international workshops and seminars dedicated to elephant conservation.

He represented India at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Workshop on Domesticated Asian Elephants in Bangkok, Thailand in 2001.

His dedication has earned him many awards, including the ‘Assom Gaurav Award 2023’ and the United Nations Environment Programme’s ‘Global 500 Roll of Honour’ in 1989.

In 2003, the Government of Assam named him ‘Honorary Chief Elephant Warden of Assam’ in recognition of Barua’s lifelong dedication to the welfare of elephants.

He has also gained recognition from Barua’s documentary ‘Aparajita 2023’. For this film he received the ‘Nature Warrior’ Jury Award at the Kolkata International Wildlife and Environment Film Festival.

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