Salim Ali was an ornithologist and naturalist who was referred to as the Birdman of India. The Ministry of Environment and Forest and Bombay Natural History Society set up a research centre for ornithology and natural history in 1990. It was later named as Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in memory of the bird Man. Its campus was moved to the current campus among the woods of Anaikatti in the Western Ghats. Situated next to Coimbatore South Reserved Forest SACON has eco-friendly buildings with natural lights and open atriums. The building was built by Laurie Baker, known for his eco-friendly architecture. The campus has 402 species of flowering plants and 177 species of birds. With 107 species of butterflies, there is a mass movement of butterflies happening in the months of October and November.
With more than around 17 scientists, the institute has been instrumental in discovering four flora and fauna species. The Institute has a large library that is accessible to both students and guests. Guests can visit SACON between 9.00 am to 5.30 pm and the entry is free. The institute is closed on weekends and there are special guidelines for taking photography.