India's "most accomplished bird artist" is Carl D'Silva from Goa. This bird-lover is also an accomplished, world-renewned wildlife artist. LLOYD RODRIGUES profiles the man from Caranzalem.

In the fiercely competitive field of wild-life art in Western countries, only the highly skilled artists are able to survive. It is an honour to Goans that Carl D'Silva of Caranzalem has carved for himself a niche in this profession. He is now in the UK where he is required to stay for four months, finalising his coloured plates for natural history books on birds which have been commissioned some years ago by established wildlife book publishers.

The rise of Goa's wildlife artist to the level of international acceptance is as fascinating as the art itself. It all began when Carl, at the young age of 17, took up part-time work at the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and then soon afterwards he met the renowned Indian ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali. From then on, there was no turning back. His association with Dr. Salim Ali strengthened his resolve to make a career of conservation and wildlife art.

To those deeply involved in the study of wildlife and intent on making a career of it, there is no substitute for arduous field-work. To nature photographers, illustrators and artists, a great deal of their woking life is spent in the field. As his first assignment, Carl took up in 1984 a survey of bustards in Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

One of the artist's early successes was the painting of the rare Lesser Florican which he observed in its wild state on one of the bird surveys in Bihar. In the September 1996 issue of the magazine INSIDE OUTSIDE, this coloured painting was reproduced. He ventured into the international field in 1987 when two of his paintings -- "Clouded Leopard" and "Scavenger Vultures" -- were selected by the London Society of Wildlife Artists to be exhibited among the works of famous and established wildlife artists.

For the first time in Goa, and exhibition called "Wildlife in Art" was held in the Menezes Braganza Hall in November 1992 and Carl was convenor. This exhibition was open for 5 days and it attracted 43 entries mainly from students of art and professionals. Writing in the brochure this is what the convenor said of this form of art: "This art form has now found a place in the mainstream of the fine arts world. True wildlife art is that culmination of first-hand observation of certain life forms, an indepth knowledge of their behaviour and an uncanny sense of creativity."

In 1989 Carl was commissioned to produce the artwork for the latest and enlarged version of Dr. Salim Ali's famous "The Book of Indian Birds". The work of art was executed with skill and in meticulous detail. The standard of painting is comparable with the best in the world, and as an ornithological publication and field-guide, there is none better on Indian birds.

Reviewing the book on a scientific basis in the September-October 1996 issue of "Newsletter for Bird-Watchers", this is what Andrew Robertson of England writes on the art-work: "The greatest change and most significant improvement from previous editions is the inclusion of 64 totally new colour plates by India's most accomplished bird artist Carl D'Silva, with a single plate by J.P.Irani. Certainly the artist has captured the 'jizz' of most of the birds admirably which indicates a familiarly with the living birds in the wild that is a prerequisite for accurate drawing."

There is a tremendous demand for the work of the artist both in India and abroad. His work has appeared in many leading wild-life and nature publications and nature societies, such as the Gujarat Natural Conservation Society, have commissioned the artist to illustrate their cards through the Centre for Environment Education-Ahmedabad.

Carl is in the team of 11 internationally known artists completing the coloured plates for the manuscript for "Birds of the Indian Sub- Continent" to be published by the world-famous publisher of field- guides, A & C Black of London. This publisher is also releasing "Pheasants, Patridges, Grouse of the World". The artist features prominently in all these books. While in the UK, Carl will also submit his plates to Pica Press, a publisher dealing exclusively with naturalistic material.

On returning to Goa, Carl D'Silva starts work for a field-guide on the birds of East Asia. The artist has been commissioned to produce coloured plates on wild ducks and waterfowl of the region technically known as the Eastern Paleartic, comprising Russia, China and Taiwan.

The excellence of Carl's art has been appreciated by many experts. He has produced numerous coloured paintings of wildlife in their natural setting. Seen here are a few plates and paintings adorning the pages of wild-life book publishers. (Ends)