Happy 125th birthday.
Today is the 125th birth celebration of renowned ornithologist Salim Ali. Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali was born in Mumbai on 12 November 1896. He spent almost his entire life devoted to Ornithology (study of birdwatching) that made him famously known as the ‘Birdman of India’ and he was the first Indian to conduct systematic bird surveys across India. He wrote books that popularised ornithology in India and published many research works related to the development of ornithology. He was a well-known environmental crusader who often stood for protecting birds and wildlife.
The Fall of a Sparrow
His famous autobiography book The Fall of a Sparrow-illustrated version tells the real-life story of his adventures on birdwatching. He vividly describes his childhood adventures in the wild and subsequent expeditions to almost every part of the Indian subcontinent for birdwatching. He published numerous journal articles, popular and academic books and field guides. Among the several books he authored, the ‘Book of Indian birds’ remains the bible for budding ornithologists. Salim Ali played a pivotal role in establishing Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and prevented the destruction of the Silent Valley National Park.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1976, India’s third and second highest civilian honours, respectively. Besides the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan, Ali received the Gold Medal of the British Ornithologists’ Union in 1967. He was the first non-British citizen to receive the honour. He got nominated to Rajya Sabha in 1985. On his 100th birth Anniversary (12 November 1996) Postal Department of the Government of India released a miniature sheet stamp.