Birdman of India - Salim Ali

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Ecological harmony among every living being on this planet leads to the maintenance of balance and serenity of the environment. Wildlife protection especially bird protection is of utmost importance and needs to be envisioned to a high extent. Salim Ali, a naturalist and a visionary scientist has enormously contributed to bird-watching and Indian ornithology.

The man having no wings has spread his claws in every possible direction to show his love for birds. The contribution he has made to the field of Indian ornithology has fetched him the title of the ‘Birdman of India’ along with Indian civilian awards such as  ‘Padma Bhushan’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’.

Ornithology is a branch of Zoology that deals with the study of birds, which derives the term from Greek words ornis (bird) and logos (explanation). Salim Ali, at the tender age of 10 noticed a flying bird being shot down. Enquiring about the particulars of the bird, he developed a great curiosity and love for birds. This love for birds flew him to places across the globe, and contributing richly to the Indian Ornithology. His rich contributions to Ornithology came out in the form of “The Book of Indian Birds”, and a collaboration with S. Dillon Ripley resulted in “Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan” (10 volumes) to name a few.    

With Salim Ali being a true inspiration, Ornithology needs to be encouraged as a scientific domain to conduct studies on diversity of birds, which also contribute directly to the ecological balance. The knowledge with respect to the geographical distribution and ecological variations of Indian birds needs to be shared to the society for helping bird conservation.  

Systemic bird surveys needs to be regularly conducted by the government authorities for sharing the knowledge on each bird status. Wildlife Protection needs a hawk-eye vision and strong commitment that can be ever-matched. With a call for the protection of birds and as part of individual contribution, let us all come together this summer to allow no bird deaths because of water scarcity, temperature rise and strengthen our support to the love for birds.

Vandalism and purposeless killing deserves severe condemnation in all aspects and requires support from the individual and government authorities. It should be included as part of the education system to inculcate it as an integral part of behavior in every individual. The practice for bird conservation needs to be given practicality, and is also part of Indian heritage as philosophies like ahimsa. People from every aspect of the society need to come forward to raise their voice for wildlife protection as we ourselves are a part of it.

Salim Ali has seen every bird to live in its natural ecosystem. Let us also reach this voice for achieving the purpose.

Author: J Shanthi Sravan, CSIR-Senior Research Fellow, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences (BEES) Lab, EEFF Centre, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), Hyderabad.

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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