Rare radio broadcasts by Birdman Dr Salim Ali released in book form

The radio broadcasts of legendary ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali have been compiled in book form and released on his 125th birth anniversary on November 16. The book titled, ‘Words for Birds’ is edited by renowned author Tara Gandhi.

The book comprises the text of 35 radio broadcasts by Dr. Salim Ali on All India Radio (AIR) from the start of his career in British India to the late 1980s. The broadcasts lay forgotten in AIR archives for decades and probably unheard of by most people in the millennial generation.

The book was unveiled as part of the 125th birth anniversary celebration of the great ornithologist conferred with the Padma Vibhushan (1976) at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). The radio broadcasts recorded during 1941-1985 not only reveal the exceptional skills of Dr. Salim Ali’s exceptional expertise on ornithology in India but also his being a passionate communicator on Indian birds.

“I had worked with Dr. Salim Ali for a long time. I have even worked on his other papers and documents and I came across these broadcasts that were well preserved by BNHS,” Tara Gandhi told IANS. She was guided by Dr. Ali for her degree of M.Sc. in ornithology. She later worked for biodiversity conservation in India and conducted many surveys to document birds and other wildlife. The book has been published by Black Kite and Hachette.

Dr. Salim Ali (1896 – 1987) was popularly known as the ‘Birdman of India’. He was the first Indian to conduct a systematic bird survey across undivided India and penned several books which popularized ornithology in the subcontinent.

The storytelling through the radio broadcasts by Dr. Salim Ali covers a wide range of issues related to the avian diversity of India including their habits, habitats, and their crucial role in nature; how they benefit agriculture, and risks they face in modern times.

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