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Comic book to tell story of India`s Birdman Salim Ali

Mumbai: The life and times of India`s legendary Birdman, the late Salim Ali, have been immortalised in a comic book to be released here Thursday.

Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) will release its new title dedicated to Ali, an internationally renowned ornithologist and conservationist, the company announced here Tuesday.

The new comic book will be released at Hornbill House, the headquarters of Bombay Natural History Society, by its present director Asad Rehmani. Ali was the president of BNHS decades ago.

"His work as a scientist, teacher and writer introduced millions ofIndians to the joys of the natural," ACK said.

Born in Mumbai in 1896, Ali was orphaned at a tender age and, along with his eight older brothers and sisters, was brought up by his uncle.

In those days, Mumbai was full of lush greenery and wildlife which attracted the young Ali to nature as a hobby.

However, being a naturalist was not a job and Ali could not find any proper employment in Mumbai, so he decided to invent his own work. He became a surveyor for Indian birds, after getting his initial training from two top BNHS officials, W.S. Millard and N.B. Kinnear.

Armed with a pair of binoculars, he travelled all over the country, painstakingly observing and listening to the birds in each region, whether deserts, rain-forests, thorny scrub, wetlands or mountains.

This provided him with rich material for his several books on birds, including the authoritative 12-volume "Handbook of Birds in India and Pakistan", "The Classic Book of Indian Birds," an autobiography, "The Fall of the Sparrow" and others which brought to life the rich and diverse bird life of the Indian subcontinent.

Over the years, he lived or travelled to places like Sindh (now in Pakistan), Burma, Germany and Afghanistan on his researches and enjoyed a keen rapport with prime ministers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi, who was a keen bird watcher.

Ali, awarded Padma Bhushan in 1958 and Padma Vibhushan in 1976, was also a nominated member of Rajya Sabha.

A widower after his wife Tehmina had died in 1939, Ali lost the battle with cancer and passed away in Mumbai in 1987 at the age of 90.

IANS

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