Sunday, July 20, 2014

AMARENDRA LAL BOSE - Journalist with difference

After return from deputation to MOEF-Govt. of India and Wildlife Institute of India, from 19 November 1987 I started living with my family in the campus of Crocodile Research Centre at Ramatirtha on the outskirts of Similipal Tiger Reserve. Within two weeks, Mr Amarendra Lal Bose (ALB) came with his family to meet us at Ramatirtha. A short, soft-spoken person wearing spotless white dhoti and kurta, Amarendra Babu talked about a range of subjects relating to wildlife and the founder Field Director of Similipal—Mr Saroj Raj Choudhury. I took the family around the crocodile project, and the family left Ramatirtha in the evening for Baripada to their ancestral home. I learnt from the Range Officer that ALB was the main person who introduced Mr Choudhury and his pet tigress Khairi to the world through a series of popular writings in Calcutta-based newspapers. I collected some of the press clippings. Amarendra Babu’s pen was really mightier than a sword when it concerned the safe future of Similipal.

In 1987 Amarendra Babu’s family had invited us to visit them at Baripada but we couldn’t do that until 1995. After my father’s death at Ramatirtha, we shifted to Baripada in November 1994. From that time onwards I found a real ‘friend’ with whom I could discuss research. ALB used to get information about my activities and reach me for answers to a series of questions. Sometimes I felt Amarendra Babu was the only academically-oriented person with whom I could discuss my research at length. It gave me satisfaction and his reports in media were well researched.

When I completed the first ever draft of Project Elephant document for Orissa and discussed the same at a state level meeting on 10 August 1989 in Bhubaneswar, Amarendra Bbau recognized the conservation material in entire exercise and gave it for national readership through Times of India. Similar releases were about research findings related pugmark tracking, melanistic tiger, elephant movements, designing of the first ecodevelopment scheme, the biosphere reserve planning, the sighting of sub-Himalayan Red-breasted Falconet, etc. In his late sixties ALB was able to move in his bicycle and was competing with young persons for reaching a report first.  

Once Amarendra Babu visited us with his wife and suggested to my wife Puspa for daily chanting of Gayatri Mantra for tiding away the difficult times in life and health. After my wife’s death in June 2003, we shifted to Bhubaneswar bringing an end to direct field studies in Similipal. But from my location in Wildlife Headquarters I was able to know about Amarendra Babu’s assuming position as Honorary Wildlife Warden ofMayurbhanj, and then his selection for the award of State Biju Patnaik Prize for Wildlife Conservation in 2010.

On 15th July Similipal lost for everone of its old supporters, I lost a family and academic friend, and Odisha lost one of its wildlife award winners. May the soul of Amarendra Babu rest in peace and his family members have the strength to tide over the loss.


Amarendra Lal Bose, Similipal, Khairi, Baripada, S R Choudhury, Project Elephant Orissa.