Prakash Gole (1938-2013)

Robert L. Jefferies
Prakash Gole in May 2008 during the GSG-meeting in Leh, Ladakh

Prakash Gole passed away at the age of 75 on 27 November 2013 in Pune, India, where he lived.  Prakash was not only known as ornithologist, but also as environmentalist and played a major role in establishing various institutes of ornithology both inside and outside India. In 1982 he established the Ecological Society in Pune.

I met Prakash Gole for the first time in Debrecen, Hungary, in October 1981 where during the annual meeting of the IWRB (International Waterfowl Research Bureau) a special symposium on “Population ecology of geese” was held.
Prakash gave a fascinating presentation on the “Status of Anser indicus in Asia with special reference to India”, which was published in 1982 in the Hungarian journal Aquila (Vol.89:141-149). He showed slides of Bar-headed Geese on barren grounds with amazingly blue lakes high up in the mountains of Ladakh. Unbelievable that geese could find any good grazing up there.

Robert L. Jefferies
The barren landscape of Ladakh, where Bar-headed geese nest.

Prakash in his typical modest and charming way introduced goose researchers in a world completely unknown to them.
Later when the Goose Specialist Group came into being, I tried several times to invite Prakash again to our meetings, and indeed he managed to come over to our meetings in Odessa in March 2004 and again in Hungary (in Sopron) in November 2005, and became species coordinator for the Bar-headed Goose.
At both meetings he made an everlasting impression on all participants. Everybody immediately liked this charming and modest man.
There we spoke about the possibility to organize a meeting in India where Bar-headed Geese are nesting. Finally Prakash invited the Goose Specialist Group to have a meeting in his beloved Ladakh, which was held in May 2008 in Leh, after two years of preparation. Indeed this careful preparation of  Prakash Gole and his team of the Ecological Society made the meeting to an unforgettable one.

Robert L. Jefferies
Prakash Gole on a bridge near Leh, Ladakh, May 2008

I am very grateful to Prakash Gole for his efforts to share the amazingly rich nature of the Ladakh mountains with members of the Goose Specialist Group. May his soul rest in peace.

Bart Ebbinge, Chairman Goose Specialist Group