A man of the forests who did much
Dr. K. Vivekanandan
Many retired Sri Lankan foresters, both senior and junior living here and abroad in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Canada will be saddened to hear of the death of Dr. K. Vivekanandan (“Vive” to many of us), former Chief Research Officer and later the Additional Conservator of Forestes who passed away on February 18, 2008; he was 71 years old.
Vive hailed from Karaithivu in the Batticaloa district. Once he had completed schooling at St. Michael’s College, Batticaloa, he entered the University of Ceylon (Colombo), where he obtained an honours degree in Botany. Later he joined the Forest Department as a research officer in 1961.
Thereafter he proceeded to the University of Aberdeen, UK and obtained a PhD degree in 1970, specializing in Genetics and Tree Breeding. I had joined the Forest Department a few years earlier as a territorial forest officer, and served in various forest divisions on the island. From the time of his joining I maintained a close relationship with him until his time of demise.
Vive was a mild-mannered, soft-spoken individual who maintained good relations with all other professional territorial staff and helped us in various scientific activities. He edited the Sri Lankan Forester magazine over a long period. He carried out active work in the Sri Lankan Association for Advancement of Science, Sri Jayawardanapura Forestry faculty, and assisted in the setting up of the Sri Lankan Scientific Service for the Forest Department staff. He organized many exhibitions, training courses, seminars on forestry and forestry related subjects and themes.
He kept a large number of scientific forestry publications under his name or jointly together with other forest scientists to serve as references and future records.
Vive functioned loyally and efficiently under six Conservators of Forest, while at the Forest Department. He also assisted a large number of Assistant / Senior Assistant Conservators who had obtained their professional forestry qualifications at Dhera Dun (India), Oxford (UK) or Georgia (USA). I was one of them, who having served in the territorial forest service and ended up with a UN / FAO assignment in Nepal. Right through my career here, abroad and even after retiring; I kept in touch with Vive and his family, who knew me as Rane.
During the early part of his career, Vive married a pretty Batticaloa girl called Arulmani, the daughter of late Dr. and Mrs. P. Thambirajah of Lloyds Avenue, Batticaloa. They had three sons and a daughter. After a long spell of service in the Forest Department; Vive was appointed in 1991 as the Chief Technical Advisor for the UNDP/FAO, regional forestry project covering 11 South East Asian countries with its headquarters in the Philippines. He was there along with his family for eight years; after which he returned to Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka and settled down with his wife.
His eldest son Sanjiv is living in Australia, second son Rajiv, along with his wife Carla and Vive’s grandson Ayrton live in London and the youngest son Sujeevan is in Canada, the daughter Varunika is studying at Monash University, Australia.
Vive’s health deteriorated in recent times. However, constant care by his wife and periodic visits by his children kept him in good cheer. He was always glad to have a chat with me. His passing away is a great loss to his family and friends. He was a good man and will be dearly missed. May he rest in peace.