On 15 September 1883 eight men interested in natural history met at Bombay in the then Victoria and Albert Museum (now Bhau Daji Lad Museum) and constituted themselves as the Bombay Natural History Society. They proposed to meet monthly and exchange notes, exhibit interesting specimens and otherwise encourage each other.
Today, it is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research. It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.
Many prominent naturalists, including the ornithologists Salim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley, have been associated with it.
The society is commonly known by its initials, BNHS. BNHS is the partner of BirdLife International in India. It has been designated as a ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’ by the Department of Science and Technology. It’s headquarter is in Mumbai and has one regional centre at Wetland Research and Training Centre, near Chilika Lake, Odisha.
The BNHS is headquartered in the specially constructed ‘Hornbill House’ in southern Mumbai. It sponsors studies in Indian wildlife and conservation, and publishes a four-monthly journal, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (JBNHS), as well as a quarterly magazine, Hornbill.
The BNHS logo is the great hornbill, inspired by a great hornbill named William, who lived on the premises of the Society from 1894 until 1920, during the honorary secretaryships of H. M. Phipson until 1906 and W. S. Millard from 1906 to 1920. The logo was created in 1933, the silver-jubilee year of the Society’s founding.
IT consultancy firm Accenture and the Bombay Natural History Society have developed Internet of Birds platform that identifies bird species found in India using Artificial Intelligence technology, including machine learning and computer vision, from digital photos that are uploaded by the public. Each time a picture is contributed to the system by public, it teaches itself, increasing accuracy in the recognition of bird species.