NEW DELHI

Salim Ali's 120th birth anniversary celebrated in Jaipur

Environmentalists and bird lovers attending a workshop to celebrate 120th birth anniversary of eminent ornithologist Salim Ali at the Nahargarh Zoological Park here on Saturday recalled his contribution to the creation of Keoladeo bird sanctuary in Bharatpur and giving an institutional shape to bird surveys in the country.

Experts working in the field of nature and wildlife conservation also recollected Dr. Ali's visit to Jaipur in 1980, when he attended an international symposium on bustards and later studied migratory birds through ringing them at Keoladeo as part of a project of the Bombay Natual History Society. Keoldado became a national park in 1981.

The workshop on “New job opportunities in wildlife conservation” was attended by about 180 students, who were apprised of the non-graduate birdman of India, who performed globally so well in ornithology.

In the presentations of Assistant Conservator of Forests Jagdish Gupta and bird watcher Sajal Jugran, nearly 30 new job possibilities were outlined to students. They included nature escorts, publishing check lists, illustrating species, visitor centres and species-specific research. Besides, bird tourism alone holds an immense potential for youngsters.

Noted conservationist and Tourism and Wildlife Society of India (TWSI) honorary secretary Harsh Vardhan highlighted Dr. Ali's long association with Rajasthan while conveying to students how they could attain such pursuits without obtaining any degree.

When Dr. Ali came to Jaipur in 1980, the then Director of City Palace Museum, Ashok Das, asked Mr. Vardhan if the ornithologist could spare some time to examine a historic bird painting kept in the museum which had not been identified. Dr. Ali gladly accepted the invitation and identified the bird as red-capped falcon.

Dr. Das later published the plate under a series, “Treasures of Indian painting”, which described it as having been pained by Mansur, the court artist of Mughal emperor Jahangir, who was a keen falconer and treasured such birds. The painting illustrated the falcon brought by Jahangir's envoy Shah Alam as a present from Persian emperor Shah Abbas.

While focusing on rare bird species associated with Dr. Ali, Mr. Vardhan said that the ornithologist and he represented India at the second global meet on bustards in Peshawar in 1983, as a sequel to the Jaipur symposium, to emphasise conserving Houbara Bustard which was being hunted through falconry in Pakistan.

Mr. Vardhan pointed out that four species of birds and one bat species were named after Dr. Ali who had lost his parents prior to his teenage years and could not obtain a university degree.

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