Salim Ali -The first ornithologist and environmentalist in India Information

Salim Ali — Bird man Of India


In India, Dr. Salim Ali was the country’s first ornithologist and environmentalist. Salim Ali studied the birds habits, the numerous species of birds, and the diversity of species. In India, his efforts began the custom of becoming an amateur bird watcher. Salim Ali was their first Guru, according to these Indian bird watchers.

Bird Lover Salim Ali
Bird Lover Salim Ali

In his book, Dr. Ali tells how he became interested in birds. Ali grew up in a Muslim family on a Mumbai farm. He used to shoot little birds with a shotgun when he was a kid. He discovered a new small bird among the spotted sparrows one day. Her neck had a yellow mark on it. The fact that the bird appeared different than usual sparked his interest, and he asked his uncle what it was. Uncle took him to the The Bombay Natural History Society’s director. Little Ali was shown a collection of sawdust-filled birds by the director, who explained the bird to him. Salim Ali captivated the birds for a long time.

Interest/ Work

Salim Ali’s latter hobbies were limited to photographing and documenting him. He planned to pursue a degree in zoologist after finishing high school, but he had to drop out owing to a number of challenging science classes. Meanwhile, he travelled to Rangoon to assist his Burmese brothers. He continued to traverse the forests of Burma, collecting birds and making records, with the support of business. He married Tehmina in 1918. Salim Ali epitomizes the phrase “a successful man has a wife behind him.” After failing in business in Rangoon, Ali returned to India in 1924. Meanwhile, Tehmina discovered Salim Ali’s passion in birds and motivated him to choose a career that would facilitate him to follow his passion.

Salim Ali’s education, on the other hand, made it impossible for him to obtain such a position. Ali gained a position as a guiding lecturer at the Bombay Natural History Society because to a close friend, but it wasn’t enough for him. At the period, there was no such thing as ornithology in India. He had ornithological training in Germany and worked in England for a time.

It was tough to get work in this profession after moving to India. Salim Ali was still considered a novice birdwatcher. He relocated to Kihim, near Alibag, with the support of his wife. During his visit, he examined the sugarcane bird’s habits in depth and published a comprehensive research paper on it in the Bombay Natural History Society magazine (BNHS). He demonstrated to the world that it is not ornithology to keep birds in museums simply by picking them up and filling them with dust, and he gave ornithology a new path.

Salim Ali was then invited to participate in British government and organization-sponsored bird campaigns in the early 1930s. Ali explained that he would study the records as well as the behavior, activities and habits of the birds on these journeys, noting that he was not interested in preserving records by plucking birds, and that the labour could be done by any local worker. Salim Ali’s main work on birds began once the British authorities accepted him because he had become an accomplished Naturalist.

Later in life, he went on bird-watching journeys across most of India. They recorded birds from the country’s northwest boundary to Kerala’s woods, and from Kutch’s wetlands to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east. Obtaining a vast amount of data on avian behavior, climatic changes, migratory habits, and nesting season.

Tehmina, his wife, initially aided him greatly. She was looking at the campaign management of the same Salim Ali.

Ali suffered immensely after Tehmin’s death in 1939. Throughout his life, a great void was created. after that, he chose to devote his life to birds. He relocated to Mumbai to live with his sister and spent the remainder of his life establishing a permanent home for Indian ornithology.

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Mansi Mestry

Mansi Mestry

Writer, Blogger , Owner of Sparkle Light Website,

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