Moizuddin Abdul Salim Ali was awarded DSc (hc) by Aligarh Muslim University (1958), Delhi University (1973) and Andhra University (1978). He was trained in `systematic ornithology’ under Erwin Stresemann at Berlin University Zoological Museum (1929-30).
Academic and Research Achievements: Salim Ali was deeply interested in ornithology and nature conservation. He conducted ornithological expeditions in most of the unexplored and little-known parts of the Indian subcontinent, including the western Himalayas, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh as well as in western Tibet and Afghanistan. His expeditions also spanned Burma and Malaya. A prolific author, Salim Ali wrote many books of lasting value. To mention a few, he authored: The Book of Indian Birds (Bombay Natural History Society, 1941, 11 Edns), The Birds of Kutch (OUP, 1945), Indian Hill Birds (OUP, 1949), The Birds of Travancore & Cochin (OUP, 1953); 2nd Edn as Birds of Kerala (1969), Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (with S Dillon Ripley) in 10 Vols (OUP, 1968-74), and Field Guide to the Birds of the Eastern Himalayas (OUP, 1977) and autobiography, Fall of a sparrow .
Other Contributions: Salim Ali was an explorer of Francis Bacon’s genre, a rarity in twentieth-century science. He was as active in the field of conservation as he was in Ornithology. He was probably the only person who had traveled to all the obscure regions of the Indian sub-continent at one time or another of his life and knew the country and its forests intimately. His knowledge and experience were respected and his timely intervention saved for instance, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, now the Keoladeo National Park and the Silent Valley National Park. It was as a teacher that Salim Ali really excelled. The University of Bombay had recognized the Bombay Natural History Society as a Research Institute in Ornithology with Salim Ali as the Research Guide. He served as Honorary Member of the Deutsches Ornithologen-Gesellschaft, Societe’ Ornithologique de France, British Ornithologists’ Union (1967), and Sociedad Espanola de Ornithologia; Corresponding Member, Zoological Society, London; and also Member, INSA Council (1967).
Awards and Honours: Salim Ali was conferred many awards, notably: Joy Gobind Law Memorial Medal by Asiatic Society (1953); Gold Medal by British Ornithologists’ Union (1967); John Phillips Memorial Medal by International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1969); Sunder Lal Hora Medal (1970) and CV Raman Medal (1979) both of INSA; Pavlovsky Centenary Memorial Medal by USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (1973); Officer in the Order of the Golden Ark by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (1973); Paul Getty International Prize (1976); Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman Medal by INSA (1979); Asiatic Society of Bangladesh Gold Medal (1981); Rabindra Nath Tagore Plaque by Asiatic Society (1981); National Research Professorship in Ornithology (1982); International Conservation Award by National Wildlife Federation, USA (1983); National Conservation Award by Indian Board for Wildlife; Padma Bhushan (1958); and Padma Vibhushan (1976). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; and Honorary Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He was President of the Bombay Natural History Society also.