Assam's Parbati Barua trains Bengal's elephant-keepers
Kolkata: Noted Assamese elephant trainer and conservationist Parbati Barua, who was in north Bengal recently to train elephant-keepers, says it is important to break down the scientific basis of elephant-keeping practices for the mahouts.
Barua was in Bengal's Gorumara at the invitation of the state's forest department.
"Mahouts know what they have to do but they do not always understand the scientific basis. So, it's important to enlighten them on the scientific basis of the elephant training protocol," Barua told IANS over telephone.
Hailing from the erstwhile royal family of the Baruas of Gauripur, now in Assam's Goalpara district, Barua is said to be the only female elephant trainer (mahout) in the world.
She came to limelight following the BBC documentary "Queen of the Elephants" based on her life, along with the companion book by late Mark Shand, brother of the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, who is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales and father of Prince William.
She said as many as 18 mahouts, most of them fresh inductees, were trained in various aspects of elephant-keeping for over five days this month.
Bengal Forest Minister B.K. Barman said the mahouts would train as many as 42 elephants for deployment in safaris and for monitoring.
"Some of the elephants are one to two month old calves. They had strayed away from their herds. Others are older at 35 years... The calves need mother's milk and we are in a difficult position with them. We are trying to save them (by administering) with cow's milk. Parbati Barua is the best person to help us out.
"Although she has helped us before, we have roped her specially this year for the training as per Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's instructions. She will again train another batch of mahouts next month in Jaldapara," Barman added.