This week on our ‘Wild Mentors’ series our attention is on a young cartoonist who uses his artwork as an educative awareness tool for wildlife conservation. Meet Rohan Chakravarty, our Wild Navigator Wild Mentor. Combining his talent in art and the effects of green humour messages has certainly influenced many in the field of wildlife conservation.
Rohan is a qualified dentist and an animation designer by profession. Cartooning is what he enjoy’s doing the most and is a huge wildlife enthusiast and an amateur naturalist with prime interest in Raptors and Canids. His work won an award recently for his cartoon art on the issue of climate change in the Sunderbans in a contest of Asia-Pacific coverage organized by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Along with this, Rohan has won other awards for his cartoons other then wildlife in (All in the hands & Usability Matters)
Wild Navigator’s Abhishek Behl interviews Rohan on a Q/A Wild Mentor series -
Q: Hi Rohan, welcome to Wild Navigator – Tell us something about yourself?
A: Hello Abhishek. First of all, thank you for getting in touch. It is a delight to be featuring on your wonderful website. I am a cartoonist based in Bangalore, India. I hail from Nagpur, a central Indian city also known as the ‘Tiger Capital of the World’ owing to the fact that it has the highest density of tigers around it for any city. Most of my work focuses on nature, wildlife and the threats to its conservation. I work as an animation designer for a multimedia firm by the day, and draw cartoons for my blog, ‘Green Humour’ at night, and I often quite naturally feel like a superhero because of my dual identity!
Q: When did you start focusing your talent of drawing cartoon characters on wilderness, wildlife and its problems?
A: I remember drawing cartoons for as long as I can remember. All my school notebooks, textbooks and walls were flooded with comics and stories I day-dreamed about. Although my first few professional cartoons were based on civic issues, I was quick to realize that I was most comfortable communicating with readers through funny animal characters. I have always been madly in love with the wilderness, but it was in 2005, on World Environment Day (5th June) (I don’t know if that was a mere coincidence or ‘supernatural intervention’, though I am tempted to believe it was the latter) that my real passion for the natural world was triggered. I had been to Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary with my mother, aunt and brother, and the first spectacle to strike us was a gorgeous female tigress having a bath in one of the water holes. The effect of that trip was profound on the course of my life. Within a few days I found myself buried in books, TV shows and documentaries on wildlife, volunteering for Kids for Tiger (an NGO dedicated to wildlife conservation) and even founding a nature club with seven of my friends in the city, which we ran for a brief period of three years. The more I read and saw, the more I became aware of the threats to the conservation of a multitude of endangered life forms, and it was only natural for me to start depicting my thoughts as cartoons. In my initial days of ‘green cartooning’ I drew a lot on issues like poaching, mining and man-animal conflict, and got published in wildlife magazines like Sanctuary Asia. My brother (who also, after that trip took a keen interest in the wilderness and is an aspiring wildlife biologist) suggested that I start a blog for my cartoons, and that’s how ‘Green Humour’ began, in January, 2009.
Scenes depicting gorgeous females in bathtubs have been the turning points in many a Hitchcock thrillers, and the one in my life has definitely been so for me; just that in my case, the female was of a different species and the water hole was much larger than any of Hitchcock’s bathtubs!
Q: As drawing animal characters is an educative platform for wildlife conservation – have you in years seen your message through your art make massive changes to problems / mitigating impacts in the field?
A: We may not consciously realize, but it sure is a fact that our minds relate instantly with animal characters. From Disney’s movies to Hanna-Barbera’s TV shows, Bill Watterson’s tigers to Gary Larson’s cows and chickens, we have for decades enjoyed, felt for and communicated with anthropomorphized animals. And there’s nothing better to endorse the issues concerning wildlife than wild animals themselves, which is why I have always attempted to use them to get readers interested to know more about the subject of my cartoons. Spreading awareness is the key to the success of any campaign, and I feel that if it is backed by interesting and powerful visuals, its impact multiplies. A lot of my cartoons have been used for awareness campaigns in India as well as abroad (I have a considerable number of readers from Brazil, in spite of a language barrier, which is heartening to know), and are being published in wildlife magazines and environmental journals like Current Conservation and Saevus. A lot of readers give me heart-warming feedback about how they enjoy the satire in my work. The young lot consisting of school students that I have met during my exhibitions (who I must say, are very generous) often tell me that they find the cartoons inspiring. Although my cartoons haven’t changed the course of governments and altered unfavourable political decisions about wildlife yet, my intent remains exactly that, and I hope to achieve it soon.
Q: What’s next on your work to-dos and how can our Wild Navigator readers be involved?
A: I am in the process of compiling a book consisting of about 200 cartoons that I have done for Green Humour, which you may get to read as soon as my hunt for a publisher ends in a success (securing a publisher for prey is a much more difficult task than a two year old tiger’s first kill!). I am also writing several new cartoons both for the publications that feature Green Humour, and for the blog.
Interested readers can follow Rohan’s work on his blog and there is also an option to follow updates by email. He draws a lot of cartoons in conjunction with environment / wildlife journalists based on articles. Follow his Facebook Page, Toonie Junkyard, The Toon Guy and his cartoon column at Kolkatabirds.com
Wild Navigator thanks Rohan Chakravarty in being a part of our Wild Navigator’s Q/A Wild Mentor Series and sharing with our readers all material and images.
Have your say ……… Do you think animal cartoons and messages act as an educative tool for wildlife conservation?