An inspiring veterinarian, a woman of courage, a professional that has set the path that many will follow.

Dr Aditi Sharma

Senior Veterinary Officer, Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Thereafter, there was no looking back and the number of women Veterinarians kept on increasing year by year so much so that at present 75-80% of Veterinary students are girls.

In India, the history of women in Veterinary Profession goes back to 1948, when Madras Veterinary College at Vepery, Chennai , opened its portal for admission to girls for the Bachelor of Veterinary Science course. Dr Sakkubai Ramachandran, the first woman Vet of India graduated in 1952 and later assumed many prestigious posts and retired as Scientist from IVRI, Bangalore in1971.

Female Wildlife Veterinarians are playing an active role in carrying out all these programs although they do have to face some challenges because of being a woman.

Despite this increasing number of women Vets in India, only a few opted to work in the wildlife sector but the last decade has seen a significant increase in the number of women wildlife veterinarians. Women play an integral role in wildlife health management & conservation, with countless pioneering female veterinarians working dedicatedly to save endangered wildlife.

“Women play an integral role in wildlife health management & conservation”

Wildlife Management & Wildlife Conservation is a vast science and includes multiple activities like Wildlife Health Management, Rescue & Rehabilitation Programs, Species Recovery Programs, Translocation & Reintroduction Programs, Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Programs, Wildlife Population & Density Estimation, Estimation of Carrying Capacity of Protected Areas, Surplus Population Management & Immunocontraception Programs, Wildlife Anaesthesia & Immobilisation, Wildlife Monitoring Programs via Radio Telemetry, Creation of Virtual Fences, Early Warning Systems for Wild animals in conflict, One Health Program and last but not the least the Biodiversity Conservation Programs.

Women Wildlife Veterinarians are playing an active role in carrying out all these programs though they do have to face some challenges because of being a woman.

India still has a male-dominated society and a large percentage of the people still think that women are not physically strong enough for fieldwork and for handling big animals. Women Vets quite often face gender biases at their workplaces and sometimes have to, unfortunately, be the victim of sexual harassment. Challenges have made them much stronger and determined to serve. They are not preferred for the field rescue operations as the first choice. They also have to face eve-teasing and some objectionable comments by the mob during rescue operations.

But, all these challenges are being faced by the Women Veterinarians of India with mindful tactics & strength and they are working for the Wildlife with great zeal & determination. They are highly skilled and qualified and their success stories in Wildlife Veterinary Management are changing the mindset of the people gradually and they are getting more and more acceptance and appreciation from society.

At present, around 40 Women Wildlife Vets are working in various Tiger Reserves, National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Zoological Gardens, Serpentine Houses, Aviaries, NGOs like WWF, WTI, WPSI, Wildlife SOS, WCS etc. Many are holding the post of Chief/Senior Veterinarians, Consultants and few are even working as Freelancers in Wildlife.

“All these challenges are being faced by the Women Veterinarians of India with mindful tactics & strength.”

I am serving as a Senior Veterinary Officer at Rajaji Tiger Reserve which is under control of Uttarakhand State Government. I am fortunate enough that I have got a supporting team but sometimes when it comes to comparison with other Male Wildlife Veterinarians, I have to face gender biases. However, I have made my own space with my strong willpower & determination and of course, hard work and expertise. I take care of Wildlife health management, captive elephant management, hand raising of orphan elephant calves, the rescue of leopards, capture and rehabilitation of an elephant who had killed three people, human wildlife conflict mitigation, camera trapping, wildlife monitoring, radio telemetry, Tiger & Elephant population estimation, necropsy examinations, laboratory diagnosis work, disease surveillance program and other wildlife management activities.

To conclude, though there are challenges for women working in the wildlife sector, however, those challenges are not stopping the Women Wildlife Veterinarians of India from proving themselves. The Indian society has now started trusting them more and more and their services are being appreciated, recognised and also being awarded at local, regional and national platforms. Many of them have even marked their presence at International platforms also.

“There are challenges for women working in the wildlife sector but those challenges are not stopping the Female Wildlife Veterinarians of India”

I have successfully completed 4 International Wildlife Courses & presented 16 papers in National & 11papers in International Conferences. I am Co-author of 3 publications. I am known to mitigate human-wildlife conflict with courage & humanity. Additionally, I contribute to social programs for Women Empowerment & women Safety.

 

 

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