This cartoonist-author lends humour to pertinent environmental conversations

A lot of Rohan Chakravarty’s works are targeted at children, including characters like Shamsher, the tiger and Gaju, the baby elephant

June 04, 2019 05:04 pm | Updated June 05, 2019 11:43 am IST

Rohan Chakravarthy

Rohan Chakravarthy

Do you know how many types of birds there are in India? “107 bird families, and about 1,300 species,” says environmental cartoonist-author Rohan Chakravarty.

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Rohan has spent years out on field, observing not only birds but numerous other creatures in the country and abroad. It’s these observations — recounted wryly by sarcastic, development-hit animal characters themselves — that have found their way into witty, humerous cartoons on his blog, three newspaper columns, a host of books, comics and wildlife maps.


The latest feather in his cap is the book Bird Business , published by Bombay Natural History Society, to be released on June 7. “It’s a book of illustrations, that looks at 100 species of birds and how they interact with their environment,” says Rohan on call from Nagpur. The project took him on field visits across Sikkim and the Northeast, though the book features birds from all over the country, including Baya weavers, Oriental dwarf kingfishers and Amur falcons.

A lot of his work is targeted at children, including early characters like Shamsher, the tiger and more recent ones like Gaju, the baby elephant and protagonist of Where is Gaju’s Herd?. Told entirely through illustrations, it shows Gaju being cut off from his herd by a train that runs through an elephant corridor, and follows his scared, hapless journey from there. Part of a campaign by Wildlife Trust of India, “the entire story is pictorial, as we did not want language to be a barrier in understanding the story (the book goes to several remote regions of the country),” says Rohan, adding that it proved impactful in man-elephant conflict-ridden parts of Bihar and Assam, among other states.


The idea, explains Rohan, is to make children empathetic towards widlife, before going on to environmental issues per se. So what’s next in line? “A book with Romulus Whittaker, Making Friends with Snakes , on snakebite awareness for children (MCBT and Pratham Books). It’s due next month,” he signs off.

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