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Thursday, August 05, 2021

‘India has intrinsic relationship with nature, (but) it’s not something urban audiences feel’

The creator of ‘Green Humour’, a cartoon strip on wildlife and ecology, speaks with The Indian Express about his work, influences and the need to engage with environment.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
July 19, 2021 1:24:49 am
‘India has intrinsic relationship with nature, (but) it’s not something urban audiences feel’Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty

Out with his fourth book — Green Humour for A Greying Planet — Rohan Chakravarty, who hails from Nagpur, is raising wildlife conservation and ecology issues, one cartoon at a time. The creator of ‘Green Humour’, a cartoon strip on wildlife and ecology, speaks with The Indian Express about his work, influences and the need to engage with environment. Edited Excerpts:

How and when did you develop an interest in biodiversity, wildlife?

I have always been interested in wildlife. It got triggered into action when I was around 20. At that time (2005), I started volunteering with Kids for Tigers (an awareness programme started by conservationist Bittu Sahgal). My job was to be a guide on bird-watching trails and nature walks for school kids. This is how I started to train myself and be aware of wildlife. My grandfather was from a hunting family. When I was 3 or 4, he introduced me to many wildlife encyclopaedias. He was a wildlife enthusiast himself. That’s how me and my brother, a biologist now, took interest in the field.

What led you to become a wildlife cartoonist?

When I started to train myself to develop a keen eye for wildlife and research, I found that a lot of communication around conservation and environmental issues was not engaging, rather was full of scientific jargons. I was always interested in cartoons, though I never thought about it as a career option. But I always drew cartoons for the fun of it. I was trained to be a dentist, but I didn’t quite enjoy my degree. I pursued a career in animation for four years before becoming a cartoonist.

How did Green Humour – a website of cartoon series, comics and illustrations – begin?

When I began volunteering, I started experimenting with communication on wildlife subjects through cartoons. For the first five years, I shared it with my friends, putting it out on social media. It was just to see if I can merge these two subjects (wildlife and cartoons) and its result. Eventually, that’s how the idea of green humour was conceived and the website came to life in 2010. In 2011-12, I started getting my cartoons published in magazines.
In 2013, Go Comics (an online catalogue of syndicated strips such as Calvin and Hobbes), picked up my work for syndication. It made a lot of news back then as it was the first comic strip series from India to get international recognition. After that more newspaper columns began.

What are the issues plaguing the discussion around environment?

The current government is not predisposed to understand any communication on environment. They are adamant and don’t want to engage with science. All the policies are coming with pre-conceived notions. A good way to address lack of communication between the scientific community and the government is to engage with other parties. While India has a very intrinsic relationship with nature, it’s not something that urban audiences feel the pulse of as we are growing distant from nature because of our lifestyles. This is something that I want to address with my work also.

What is your favourite creature to draw?

This answer changes every day, right now it’s Dhole – the Asiatic Wild Dog.

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