Fail to meet PM over bike lane KATHMANDU, Oct 31: Ground realities, good science and knowledge-based decisions alone can make the country prosperous, the late Dr Prahlad Yonzon, the veteran wildlife biologist, used to say.
Exactly a year after the conservation hero died in a bicycle accident on the capital´s Ring Road, conservationists have still not recovered from the untimely demise of someone who dedicated his entire life to wildlife and conservation.
“He wasn´t stingy about two things - time for his students and money”, said Dr Dinesh Bhuju, a leading scientist at Resources Himalaya, an NGO established by Yonzon and where he used to mentor young conservation scientists.
It was he who recorded tigers at the highest altitudes in Bhutan and pioneered reseach on the endangered red panda through an intensive two-year field study. He was a designer and planner of national parks in the country and abroad.
“A perfectionist, he was extraordinarily dedicated and aggressively open-minded and always tried to bring youths into the forefront of conservation biology, spending most of his time training young scientists,” said Dr Pitambar Sharma, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, who currently chairs Resources Himalaya.
Yonzon received the MacArthur Award in 2007 and provided $350,000 he received in award money for building the Conservation Chautari, where young scientists are now doing research.
“A great inspirer who taught me to stand on my own feet and never compromise on knowledge, his inspiration is helping me learn more conservation science and promote good science,” said Ranjit Pandey.
But the sad story is that the state has not responded to scientists and friends of Yonzon who have tried for a year to meet the prime minister and request him to develop a cycle lane on the Ring Road where he was crushed to death by a truck. “We tried to meet the PM to request him to honor Yonzon by constructing a cycle lane in his name, but our frequent approaches have failed,” said Sharma in a fed-up voice.
A gold medalist in zoology from Tribhuvan University, Yonzon did his doctorate from the University of Maine in the US and was considered one of the most critical thinkers in the conservation community within the country and the region.
A year has gone by and conservationists will keep remembering him. His collegues have been making tireless efforts to maintain the pace set by him in mentoring young scientists and doing the best in research work.
In memory of Dr. Yonzon, the building of Conservation Chautari will be named Dr Prahlad Yonzon Memorial Conservation Chautari on Wednesday. “Every corner of this building echoes Dr Yonzon,” says Dr Bhuju of Resources Himalaya, “When we were constructing this building, he took care of everything, he designed it, worked on it”.
Conservationists were overwhelmed when a research article, of which Yonzon is one of the authors, was published in Nature Magazine. It is probably the last research paper to mention his name. More than 150 scientists across the globe contributed to the article titled ´Averting Biodiversity Collapse in Tropical Forest Protected Areas.´
According to one of the major findings of the research article, “Environmental changes immediately outside [nature] reserves seemed nearly as important as those inside in determining their ecological fate, with changes inside reserves strongly mirroring those occurring around them.”
Said Dr. Sharma, “Continuing to work to promote good science would be a real tribute to Dr Yonzon,” said Resources Himalaya Chairman Dr Sharma.