The Tyabjis

Salim Ali (1896-1987)

S.A. was known as the Grand Old Man of Indian ornithology. Though slight and apparently frail of build he undertook expeditions to Afghanistan and Tibet, and even till the very end was not content to sit at home. His "Book of Indian Birds" made bird-watching popular among the general public. Throughout his career he was closely associated with the Bombay Natural History Society.

Salim Ali Centenary issue. Stamp images from and

Salim Ali

From the back jacket of the Salim Ali Centenary Edition of The Book of Indian Birds:

Salim Ali was as active in the field of conservation as he was in Ornithology. He was probably the only person who had travelled to all the obscure parts of the Indian Subcontinent at one time or another of his life and knew the country, its forests and its birdlife intimately. His knowledge and experience were respected and his timely intervention saved the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, now the Keoladeo National Park, and the Silent Valley National Park. He was a non-conformist, a man who for many years walked a lonely path divergent from the mainstream of science in India. It is a tribute to his determination and genius that at the end of his life, he had a sizeable population of the conformist mainstream following him or at least appreciating and commending his more or less single-handed efforts to present the study of the Birds of his land, the ethereal spirits of the air, to his countrymen and to the world.
The Salim Ali entry at the Scientists of India page.

Some books by S.A.

  1. Bird study in India : its history and its importance
    New Delhi : Indian Council for Cultural Relations, c1979. Azad memorial lectures ; 1979
  2. Birds of Kerala
    With 101 species illustrated in colour and 32 in black-and-white by D. V. Cowen.
  3. The birds of Kutch
    With thirty-two photographs and twenty coloured plates by D. V. Cowen.
  4. The birds of Sikkim
    With coloured plates by David Reid-Henry, Robert Scholz and Paul Barruel and line drawings by Paul Barruel.
  5. The birds of Travancore & Cochin
    With 101 species illustrated in colour and 32 in black-and-white by D.V. Cowen.
  6. The book of Indian birds
  7. The fall of a sparrow
  8. Field guide to the birds of the eastern Himalayas
  9. Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka
    with S. Dillon Ripley.
  10. Indian hill birds
    illustrated by G.M. Henry.
  11. A pictorial guide to the birds of the Indian subcontinent
    with S. Dillon Ripley. Illustrations by John Henry Dick.
Amber Habib / [email protected]
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