New Delhi: Eminent ornithologist and naturalist K.S. Lavkumar Khachar died in Rajkot on Monday, according an associate of his. He was 84.

Khachar, who belonged to the erstwhile princely family of Jasdan in Gujarat, worked closely with another stalwart of the field, the late Salim Ali, and had a long association with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India.

Khachar, who celebrated his 84th birthday on 24 February, had been suffering from prostate cancer, according to the associate cited above, Snehal Patel. He is survived by a son and a daughter.

The late ornithologist was a prominent member of the Delhi Bird Club. Throughout his life and career, Khachar worked to spread awareness about ornithology, nature and wildlife conservation.

He organized and led several environmental education activities in Gujarat and other states. His key contributions to preserving India’s ecological heritage include conservation work in the Gulf of Kutch islands and Gir forest.

He was educated at Rajkumar College in Rajkot where he later taught bioscience and geography. He had completed his BSc from St Stephen’s College, Delhi.

Often called an old-school ornithologist, Khachar’s association with birds started in the 1950s and continued until his final days.

Khachar was among the pioneers of nature conservation in the country. He was also involved in organizing nature education camps in the Hingolgadh Nature Education Sanctuary in Jasdan, which was created by the Jasdan royal family.

He also used to organize nature camps in Manali where he inspired hundreds of others to take up nature and wildlife conservation and bird watching.

Even though Khachar was known to be strict, straightforward and disciplined, he was popular among the young.

Snehal Patel, 54, a professor at a college in Surat who started Nature Club Surat after being inspired by Khachar, met the ornithologist around 32 years ago. He described Khachar’s death as a loss to the conservation community.

Patel said he had just completed his mechanical engineering when he met Khachar and their association continued until the last days of the ornithologist.

“He was the one who inspired me and thousands like me towards nature conservation, mountaineering, bird watching," said Patel. “He was a true nature lover."

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