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SHARAD SANE

15 August 2014 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS

Sharad Sane dreamed of a world of animals, fishes and nature. He was sensitive to all animal life from his early childhood. Our father, the late Ramchandra Sane was also a keen hobbyist and the owner of “Fur, Feather and Fish”. He would remark about his son as “Shashi is more happy among animals than among human beings” Sharad was known as Shashi in the family and close friends.

I vividly recall an incident in his life when he was eleven years old. Our residence was on the 5th floor. We had a large terrace where we had a few aviaries. The house caught fire in mid-summer. We were a joint family of about 12 members. Our father took charge and started moving us to safety. He noticed that Sharad was not to be seen. When he went looking for Sharad, he found him putting his pet canaries in his pant pockets. He ran down the stairs to safety just in time with a few birds in his pockets. 

This boy grew up to be an avid lover of animals, fish and birds. Till practically his last breath he worked towards this cause. He was a keen observer and took up studies in Botany and Zoology to make his career as a pioneer Breeder, a Scientist, an Author and as an Exporter. Sharad studied Botany and Zoology at Wilson and Ruparel College in Mumbai. This was mainly to get a scientific knowledge about what was his hobby. He was trying to explore the possibilities of taking this up as a profession. He did his MSc in Animal physiology. Dr. Karmarkar of Wilson College who is the incumbent Chairman of "SANJEEVAN" was his Guide then. Dr. Karamarkar was very proud of his dedicated student. This relation developed into a very close friendship later.


Sharad had very close friendship with a few other dedicated hobbists.To name a few Dr. Chhapghar of BARC,Mr. Kanan from Chennai. Mr. and Mrs. Knaggs from England, Dr. Rodney Johnclass from Shri Lanka. They shared a lot of reaserch work together and used to discuss and share their experiences. He encouraged and helped many others including his younger brother Deepak who is a very keen hobbyist of birds , fish and animals.

Sharad began by breeding just a few species of fish and birds. As he grew up he gradually expanded in to breeding birds and fishes for export to Europe and the USA. He conducted systematic research in birds, mammals and fish. As a part of his research Sharad started maintaining records of behavioral response of birds and fishes to environmental changes, mutation patterns, breeding patterns, disease control, etc.

In order to expand his database he became active member of several Indian and overseas organizations and started writing for journals of Avicultural Society, Natural History Society, Parrot Society of UK, etc about his own experiences and findings

A big surprise awaited him in the year 1975 The World Wild Life Fund ( with recommendation from Late Dr. Salim Ali ) chose him to work on the project of breeding Cheer Pheasants in captivity. This was a species on the verge of extinction in the Himalayan region. The London Zoo sent fertile eggs to him and to the Indian Govt .The project was to raise the birds and release them in the wild. Sharad was chosen as a private breeder to take up the project. He received 12 fertile eggs. Out of which he could raise 8 healthy chicks in Bombay which has a very hostile climate condition for Cheer pheasant. After they reached near maturity these were handed over to the government authorities for releasing in the Terai Region. This experiment found wide coverage not only in trade journals but also in other print media. Films Division made a documentary “ Friends for Life” on his work and collection and Siddharth Kak featured him in one of the episodes of “Surabhi”

Sharad was a keen observer of birds. He could distinguish young fledglings with different colour patterns even in wild chicks. He spotted a rare young parrot which he identified as a specimen of Rothschild (Pssittacula Intermedia) parrot. He nurtured this chick to maturity. Dr Salim Ali who saw this bird asked Sharad to report about it in the Avicultural Society journal. He did so in 1977. He also wrote about this find in the Journal of Natural History Society in Vol. No. 83 in 1986.

Another unique achievement of Sharad was to have bred a rare yellow mutation of Blossom-headed parakeet. He reared several generations of this breed. His wife Sheela continues to breed and record this strain even today.

In his aviaries he kept several species of birds which included Cock of the Rock, Crown Pigeon. Bleeding-heart Pigeons, Mot mots, Tits, Bulbuls, Fly-catchers, Bee eaters, Kingfishers, Wood Peckers, Sun Birds, Sand Grousers, Robins, Fruit Pigeons, etc.

Sharad started breeding fish in 1959. He was amongst the first exporter of live ornamental fish to Europe. He was highly appreciated by his clients for ethical practices. His fishes were always in a very healthy state and packed in ideal condition. His daughter Dr. Leena Bhide continues his profession with the same zeal and dedication.

He made constant efforts to convince the government agencies that there was enormous potential for developing breeding of aquarium fishes as a source of self-employment among the youth and as a source of extra income for farmers and housewives.

About his expertise in the fish hobby Tropical Fish Hobbiest Magazine UK (Feb 1962 issue) The author Late Dr. Rodney Johnclass a great hobbist from Sri lanka. writes of the Professinals Sane is a Master of Science and more than knows his onions. I have seldom met anyone with such extensive first hand and technical knowledge of all pets and their requirements as Sane but more than anything else Sane's exclusive fishes, the new and lovely Colisa Chuna, will soon make him world famous.

In the same issue the Editorial comments were” Mr. S. R. Sane deserves credit for his foresight in recognizing the value to aqurists of this beautiful little Gouramie and for his efforts in breeding it in commercial quantities.”

Some species have been bred by him with others hobbyists ,such as Puntius Setnai- Chhapgar & Sane 1992 [Family Cyprinidae]from Goa.He was very successful in breeding some wild caught Indian fishes like Chaka Chaka the catfish, the mouth breeding Gaurami and many others.

In his aquariums, he bred Neon Tetras, Chaca Chaca, Chichlids, Sturosoma Panamanase and cat fishes. Among the varieties of Turtles and Tortoises, he handled Kachuga Kachuga, Geochelone, Travancorica, Mata Mata, Snapping turtles and GeomydaTtrijuga.

Sharad encouraged many a young enthusiasts in the art and technique of breeding fishes. He was always avaible to them for every help, advice and guidance in their pursuits. He strived to impress upon the Govt. authorities the need to encourage ornamental fish breeding as an employment generating business. Hon. Shri Sharad Pawar, the Union Agriculture Minister was impressed with Sharad's proposal and deputed him to spread his idea at a number of seminars. As a matter of principle, he declined to export his stock to breeders in Singapore because the breeders in Singapore would have captured the market for Indian species in European markets at the cost of Indian breeders.

He contributed several significant papers at seminars, conferences and trade journals all over India as well as abroad. In fact he attended a seminar in Lucknow along with his wife Sheela on Ornamental fish organized by the MPEDA just two weeks before he expired. His important paper which he presented at this meet appears in this issue.

In addition to all the above he kept animals and reptiles like Albino five-striped squirrels, Gerbills, Giant and Flying Squirrels, Mangoose, Marmasets, Salamanders and Cacealins.

Among his published work in different journals are 48 articles and papers which have appeared in several Indian and Overseas journals. Prominent among them are one dealing with two New Species of Sequilla, Taxonomic Status of Psittacula Intermedia (Roths childs Parakeet), New genus puntius from Goa, Breeding of Cheer Pheasants in captivity, etc.

In his world-wide travels he visited the London Zoo, National Zoological Gardens Colombo, Societe Royale de Zoologic D, Anvers Antwerp, Zoological Garden Zurich, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore and Harewood Bird Park in UK. He was awarded a Merit Certificate by Govt. Of Maharashtra for promoting export of Live Aquarium Fish.

He was invited to serve on Advisory Committees of several National parks and Zoos. Prominent among such assignments were Marine Products Development Council, Govt. of India, Sanjay Gandhi national park, Mumbai, Jeejamata Udyan, Mumbai

Zoological park, New Delhi, Barvi Zoological Safari, etc. He was the founder Chairman of SANJEEVAN, Mumbai and a Trustee of Green Life Foundation, an NGO. Another important effort by him was to suggest and help carry out Educational programmes for students on rearing & breeding of ornamental fish by the Mumbai University as well the Agricultural Universities. Individually he always helped many young people to start and devlop these hobbies & business.

His most ambitious project was the founding of “SANJEEVAN” Sanjeevan was founded by Sharad & other like minded friends in the year2003 to bring together hobbyists, and traders to share knowledge and promote ethical trade practices and to fight unjust rules.

Among the objectives of this NGO are to conserve and preserve the balance between wild life and human beings by imparting knowledge. To conduct research and experimentation in the field of wildlife, captive breeding, caring and rearing animals so as to preserve the species from becoming endangered. This in turn will avert the imbalance between humans and wild life. To prevent cruelty to any kind of wild or pet animal and to promote the pious activities for their kind treatment etc.

All in all Sharad Ramchandra Sane was a Unique and Devoted Human Being. He lived his life to the fullest in service to the animal world about which he dreamt from his childhood.

This article is a TRIBUTE to my DEAR BROTHER whom I always held in very high Esteem.

- Meera Deobhakta