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Who Was Salim Ali ?

Salim Ali was an Indian ornithologist, wildlife conservationist and naturalist. He also contributed significantly in saving ‘Silent Valley National Park’ from waste. After 1947 he became the most prominent figure in the Bombay Natural History Society and was instrumental in the formation of the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeva National Park). He is also known as the “Birdman of India”. In 1976, awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honor.

Ali Birth

Salim Ali was born on 12 November 1896 in Bombay. His full name was Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali. His father’s name was Moizuddin Abdul and his mother’s name was Zeenat-un-Nissa. He was the ninth child of his parents. His father died when he was one year old and his mother also died when he was three years old. Salim and his siblings were then looked after by his maternal uncle Amiruddin Tayabji and aunt Hamida in the Khetwadi area of ​​Mumbai. His wife’s name was Tahmina Ali.


Salim Ali, along with his two sisters, attended Zenana Bible Medical Mission Girls High School in Girgaum for his primary education and later enrolled in St. Xavier, Mumbai. At the age of 13, he suffered from headaches, which often forced him to drop out of class. He was sent to Sindh to live with one of his uncles who suggested that the dry air might have helped him recover and after coming back for a long time, barely passed the tenth examination from Bombay University in 1913.

Earned elementary education from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, but his first year of college was a difficult one, after which he quit his studies and took care of the family’s business of Wolframe (Tungsten) Mining and Timber, Tevoy, Burma (Tenasserim). gone. This place proved to be helpful in Salim’s interest because there were thick forests here where his mind used to see different types of results.


He could not even complete his studies. When he grew up, Salim Ali was sent to Burma (present-day Myanmar) to help him in his work with his elder brother. Here too, his mind used to see different types of pandas in the forest. On returning home, Salim Ali trained in the subject of ornithology and was appointed as a guide in the Museum of the Natural History Society of Bombay.

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Then he went to Germany and got higher training. But after returning to the country after one year, he came to know that his post has ended. His wife had some money. Due to which Salim Ali started living with a small house at a place called Kihim near Bombay Port. Due to excessive rainfall that year, a bird made a scarecrow on a tree near his house. Salim Ali used to study the habitat of bay bird for three to four months every day.

Birdman of india

There are very few people in the world who live for others and rarely think of creatures different from the human community. One such rare personality was that of the famous naturalist Salim Ali, who devoted his whole life to birds. It is said that Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali understood the words of the birds and because of this quality he was called Birdman of India. He associated the study of birds with the general public and was at the forefront of many bird sanctuaries. Director of the Salim Ali Center for Ornithology and Natural Sciences (SACON), Coimbatore, Dr. P.A. Aziz said that Salim Ali was a visionary. He made a huge contribution to ornithology.


At the University of Berlin, he worked under the famous biologist Irwin Stresemann. He also contributed significantly in saving ‘Silent Valley National Park’ from waste. He returned to India in the year 1930 and then started fast work on birds. After independence, Salim was one of the prominent people of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNSch). He played a major role in the establishment of Bharatpur Birds Vihar.


  • Institutes such as Aligarh Muslim University and University of Delhi awarded him an honorary doctorate.
  • He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958 on behalf of the Government of India for the important work done on nature science and birds.
  • The postal department has also issued a postage stamp in his memory.


Salim Ali died at the age of 91 on 27 July 1987 in Mumbai.