RAMESH PRASAD BHUSAL
KATHMANDU: “He was the green tiger in a black forest and he will be sorely missed,” one of his students wrote of Pralad Yonzon, a veteran biologist on Facebook. Yonzon was killed when a truck crushed him while he was cycling at Balkhu on Monday afternoon.
His colleagues and students were waiting for him at Conservation Chautari — the Resources Himalayan Foundation building — at about 9:00 am today, the very time his post-mortem was being carried out at TU Teaching Hospital.
Gopal Maharjan, office assistant said, “At about 4:00 pm on Monday, sir said see you tomorrow Gopal, and cycled home. An hour later, I was informed that he was in hospital. I rushed to hospital, but he was no more.”
Pitambar Sharma, the current Chair of Resources Himalaya Foundation and former vice chairman of National Planning Commission, who met him forty years ago, rushed into the building where Yonzon had planted the dream of nurturing young enthusiastic graduates in natural resources. “I used say he was too old to cycle, but he always answered ‘I am young’, he died young,” Sharma sobbed. Students at the premises too were full of tears.
Conservation Chautari at Sanepa built from the money received from MacArthur Foundation as award, is centre for young graduates in environment and conservation science. Yonzon mentored them and called them ‘Environment Graduates Himalaya’. “Our conservation Guru is no mortem but we will carry his spirit and legacy,” students said.
With great disbelief, shock and pain, his well wishers accepted his death.
Yonzon had conducted world class research on rare and endangered species in the hills and mountains of Nepal, Bhutan and Vietnam. He was the first person to take photo of any wild tiger in Bhutan. In Bhutan Himalaya; tigers were recorded at 4,110 metres during Yonzon’s study.” Perhaps, this was the only photo of a tiger ever taken at this altitude. Tigers are generally found on lowlands (below 1000 m). He took one of the rarest photos of Tiger in Bhutan “but I was never given credit by the government of Bhutan,” he said to this reporter. In 2010 BBC claimed it had discovered tiger at an altitude of 4000 metres, Yonzon, who had made the discovery about a decade ago, stayed silent in Kathmandu.
A doctorate from the University of Maine on the endangered red panda, he was recipient of various prestigious awards including Golden Ark from prince Bernhard of Netherlands.
Highly dissatisfied with the luxurious life of scientists, who claimed to be researching on the field, he told Himal South Asia in an interview a few months back that consultants wear three-piece suits, carry laptops, are jet-setters and half their reports are already finished before they leave home.”