GREEN TEACHER AWARD
Naturalist. Photographer. Author. Teacher.
Photo: Aarti Bhat.
The greatest teacher is the eternal student, and that perfectly describes Isaac Kehimkar, widely referred to as India’s ‘Butterfly Man’.
Having grown up in Mumbai long before technology took over our lives in the shape and form of smart phones and televisions, Kehimkar says his childhood was spent wandering the wilds of Deonar. A Political Science degree notwithstanding, Isaac Kehimkar’s love for the natural world determined his career choice when he ditched a marketing job selling cosmetics for a life surrounded by nature. In his father’s words: “It’s more difficult to find a job that will make you happy, than one which pays you well. If you follow your heart, the money will eventually follow.” That light guided him to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), where he served as a Library Assistant for years. This is where he says his true schooling took place. With an entire library at his disposal, like a sponge, Kehimkar absorbed reams of research findings and natural history information over the decades. And he made it his life’s mission to share his knowledge with others. Today, as the General Manager, Programmes, with the BNHS, he continues to write about the small wonders of nature – butterflies, reptiles and plants, and has been published in national newspapers and magazines, including Sanctuary Asia. He has also authored two comprehensive field guides – Common Indian Wildflowers and the Book of Indian Butterflies.
He travels around the world, explores nature constantly and has passed on his love of the wilds to his two sons, Sameer and Amitiah.
Today, Isaac Kehimkar is committed to popularising the concept of butterfly gardens in urban areas as a way to bring young people closer to nature. Having worked closely with the likes of Dr. Sálim Ali, Humayun Abdulali and J. C. Daniel, this naturalist-teacher generously passes on both knowledge and values to generations of young Indian conservationists.
For this, we honour him.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXIV No. 6, December 2014.