Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai, the discoverer of a new world, after completing his basic education from Ahmedabad, received a Tripos degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University, England.
He was born in the Sarabhai family of Ahmedabad in the house of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai on 27 November 1947. His mother’s name is Mrinalini Sarabhai, who is a Bharatnatyam dancer. His grandfather Ambalal Sarabhai was an industrialistand his sister Mallika Sarabhai is a Bharatnatyam dancer just like her mother. The name of his wife is Rajshri Sarabhai.
Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai’s interest in nature began during the 70s. Once a pair of spotted owls(Athene brama) appeared in his Ahmedabad garden. First, his wife Rajshri (Raju) saw the pair of those owls. He looked like a very small child. Raju kept watching those owls every evening for several days. Seeing Raju’s interest, Sarabhai thought of presenting a book on owls on her birthday. He went to a small bookshop to get a book but there he saw an owl holding a dead mouse in his beak in the picture printed on the cover of a book, he changed his mind and did not buy the book.
The story is from 1976. Sarabhai’s son Mohal was 6 years old at that time. He had an illustrated book on airplanes that contained almost all airplanes from that time. When Sarabhai used to take Mohal for a walk in the garden, Mohal used to ask him a question by pointing at a bird. Sarabhai could not recognize all the birds. That’s why he thought of buying the same book of a bird as the book of the airplane. At that time a member of the council of Vikram A. Sarabhai (his father) wanted to go to the books fair in the Sanskar Kendra. Sarabhai asked him to bring some good book of birds. He searched the book of Dr. Salim Ali in many shops but he could not find any book as its current edition was sold out.
After a lot of hard work, Sarabhai got the tenth edition of that book. Now he and Mohal started searching for new birds in their garden using that book. At that time he was introduced to some birds such as yellow wagtails, hudhud, and magpie Rabin. And thus Sarabhai, Mohal, and Raju all three got a lot of interest in birds. They also started going to new places to see new birds. Once he went for a walk in the small Gulf of Kutch. There Mohal pointed everyone towards the herd of vultures. There they saw the white-backed Gyps bengalensis, the long-billed Gyps indicus, and the Neophron perenopetrus. Mohal found them very beautiful.
Sarabhai used to visit Mumbai regularly at the WWF’s office located in the Great Western Building. There he met Lavkumar Khachar. He was the leader of the camp movement in India at that time. Sarabhai accompanied him to a few camps organized in Hindolgarh and the Gulf of Kutch. Sarabhai and his two children Mohil (7) and Samvit (2) met Dr. Salim Ali in 1977 in Hindolgarh. Hindolgarh was amazing from the point of view of bird observation. Apart from this, Sarabhai was also introduced to Luvkumar’s cousin Darbar Shahib. He had a wonderful ability to recognize birds. For a few years, Sarabhai and his family had the privilege of bird watching along with Dr. Salim Ali, Darbar Shahib, and Luv Kumar.
In 1976 Raju and Sarabhai started working in Thaltej Tekra, the campus of NFD Development. Wherever he went, he would bring new plants from the forest nursery. It was only because of bird observation that he saw the beautiful nature of nature. He experienced very closely the arrangement found in the garden and in nature. Things seem to grow in a chaotic manner in the garden whereas there is a clear arrangement in the garden. Once when Dr. Salim Ali went to Sarabhai’s campus, he asked whether Megalyma hemicephala was ever seen here or not. He found the environment of that bird quite suitable. Two months later that bird really appeared. Seeing this Sarabhai became more sensitive towards the complex relations of nature.
During the Diwali holidays of 1975 and 1976, he organized ‘Shreyas holiday camps’ in the beautiful campus of Shreyas School. Some classes are also held in the shade of pilu trees such as the tall stunning Ardusa and small igloos.
In 1977, he went to Gir Sanctuary. He was accompanied by famous photographer Suleman Patel, who was famous for taking photographs of eleven lions drinking water together in a drain in Gir. His wife Raju could not go there due to some reason. Therefore the first time those people had a vision of the royal bulbul i.e. Terpsiphon Paradisi. Sarabhai was very eager to tell Raju about it. Raju regretted not going there. But after a week, not knowing where the male royal Bulbul came and sat on the Khejri tree in front of the window of his bedroom. Then he felt as if some divine power was helping Raju to observe the bird.
Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai went to Madras in 1978. There he heard about Romulus Whitaker and his snake garden in Guindy. Birds, trees, were one thing but snakes and crocodiles seemed completely different to them. Some such coincidence happened that Romulus came to Indrona Park in Ahmedabad. There he stayed at Sarabhai’s house at his request. Sarabhai heard a lot about snakes from him. Sarabhai and his family became interested in snakes. He decided to do a snake show in Ahmedabad. Snake show was organized at VASCSC in October 1978 and it was very successful.
Sarabhai has received many awards and honors for his hard work and dedication in his exciting life.
- Tree of learning award from IUCN in 1998
- World Human Rights Promotion Award from The Indian Institute of Human Rights in 2005
- Padma Shri award by President of India in 2012
- Olive Green Crusader award by International Advertising Association in 2013
- Honored by Sir C.V. Raman Memorial Award by The Science Aur Kainat Society of India in 2014
- International Brandwein Medal by Brandwein Institute and the IUCN-CEC in 2016
- Appointed as International WetSkills Ambassador by Vetskills Foundation, Netherlands during the finals of WetSkills-India 2017 at Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017.