Friday, February 20, 2015


My Professor, Basanta Kumar Behura, passed away on 16 February 2015 at the age of 93+. When no one I knew was teaching Wildlife management or preaching their conservation, Professor Behura was asking all of us in his Post Graduation classes in Utkal University to take oath to conserve environment and wildlife....As a Zoologist he was better known as an entomologist and herpetologist.

Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. My “Professor” was an extraordinary person and he knew who can do what at his best.

Towards later part of 1974 I was yet to get my MSc results. Professor Behura asked me to extend my research of PG-Dissertation to seven species of Aphids as that could lead me to a PhD degree. That was the time when with Dr Murari Mohan Dash we gave my dissertation to five joint research papers. Professor Behura said, without publication results meant nothing for the education system. This exposure and training made me a full time researcher for rest of my life.

Early 1975, Professor Behura motivated me for research on crocodiles, saying that it was a new field of studies, and that I will have the opportunity of working with a “Gora Sahiba” (foreigner). Here he mentioned about his own trip out of the country to Edinburgh for higher studies and that I was getting the scope of ‘overseas guidance within my state’.   

Because of problems in getting Dr H R Bustard recognized as a Guide in Utkal University, Professor Behura rescued me by agreeing to be the official PhD guide. It is also very unusual of a PhD guide who allowed all my joint papers on crocodiles to be published with Dr Bustard as I was doing all field work with Dr Bustard. Although I have a range of non-entomological publications, there is just one review article on crocodile farming with Professor Behura. Very few PhD supervisors may fit to the mettle which I experienced in Prof Behura!

For me, Professor Behura is an untiring speaker and also a patient listener. Sometimes he appreciates me lavishly and at other times releases for me a sense of protective-warning. I have never forgotten the foundation he gave and his presence in my conscience whether I was working in Satkosia, or in Chambal or in Similipal.

One would never like a mentor like Professor Behura to physically disappear from us anytime ever. If any day I will want to see him again I will search him in my heart, I will look at my book-shelves, the CDs and the hard-disks, —all those places where I embrace his memories, where I store his work, citations and photographs.

Professor and Madam Behura came to us in Baripada and knew my family closely. My son and daughter came closer to the eldest couple they had experienced ever, when we shifted to Bhubaneswar after my wife’s death during our stay in Similipal. If not at any other time, on days of Kumar Purnima ‘Chanda Chakta’ or ‘Makara Chaula’ we meet the eldest couple whom we admire and revere the most.

Respected Professor!, that is how I used to address him in letters; you are gone to a different world. You and Madam Behura have given me and my children enough consolation and courage when we needed these the most. We will remember this always.

May YOU rest in peace in your chosen abode in the heaven!

KEY WORDS: Prof B K Behura, Odisha Wildlife, Utkal University, Zoology