Dr. Ravi Sankaran (Oct 4, 1963 – Jan 17, 2009) was an ornithologist who dedicated his life to biodiversity conservation throughout India, as a researcher, teacher, mentor, and finally, Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History.
In the 1980s, as a graduate student at the Bombay Natural History Society, Ravi gained recognition for his pioneering research on the endangered Lesser Florican in western India. His research provided the basic framework for conservation of this endangered species, and of other species and habitats he studied subsequently. He was a tremendous source of inspiration to colleagues and students, and a prominent figure in the field of wildlife conservation in India.
In recent years his research focus was on the Andaman & Nicobar islands, a system with many threatened species including the Nicobar Megapode and the Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet. Ravi’s work on the Swiftlet provided crucial insights for the conservation of this species, and he was deeply involved in developing community-based conservation efforts including ranching / sustainable harvesting of these birds’ nests. This approach is radically different from the dominant preservationist approach in India, and illustrates Ravi’s distinct and balanced perspective on conservation.