His cartoons make you laugh out loud. They also carry a strong message of conservation that leaves an instant impression in the minds of young and old alike. Rohan Chakravarty, a wildlife and environment cartoonist from India, has won this year’s WWF International President’s Award for his efforts to change attitudes towards nature.
The award is the top accolade given by WWF to recognise leadership in young conservationists who are under the age of 30 from around the world. The award ceremony was held recently in Manado, Indonesia.
Hailing from Nagpur (also known as the tiger capital of India), Chakravarty was an enthusiastic bird watcher since childhood. He was on his way to becoming a dentist when the sighting of a magnificent tigress at a waterhole at Nagzira Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra threw his planned career off gear. It fired up the wildlife lover in him, compelled him to leave dentistry and instead use doodling as a conservation tool. It was a stark and a risky career shift in a country where traditionally a lot more emphasis is given to academics rather than creative pursuits when it comes to choosing a profession.
Making a mark
Today, this young cartoonist and illustrator has made a mark by sketching passionately and consistently on wildlife, climate change and other environmental issues and has many national and international magazines and newspapers lining up for his cartoons. With over 400 works, Chakravarty probably has one of the largest online cartoon repositories – under the banner of Green Humour – that centre around environmental issues. Green Humour, which is also the country’s first comic strip to be distributed internationally, showcases how artistic skills can become an effective communication tool to highlight green issues. And for those who like quirky collectibles, there are cartoon mugs and T-shirts available on the website.
“I am honoured to receive the title, which, more than an award, is a reminder of my responsibility to both my art and my muse — wildlife. Cartoons and humour ensure that a reader not only retains a message but also responds to it, and are hence indispensable tools in both communication and conservation,” Chakravarty told indiaclimatedialogue.net. “I thank WWF for giving cartoons the importance they deserve, and for empowering me to do more with this art form.”
“Rohan represents the younger generation of conservationists in India, one who combines his talent for fun, positivity, nature and science through his art, visualising forests and wildlife in a refreshing yet compelling form,” said Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India. “Through his work and dedication and his added ability to mentor, Rohan inspires individuals in a way that each person can make a positive difference with expression and knowledge.”
From gossiping Arctic Terns – the bird species that encircles the whole planet on its migratory route – to fun maps of tiger reserves in the Northeast Himalayan states of India, to portraits of various raptors, to a stressed-out frog who refuses to kiss a fairy-tale princess, to laughing at his own fun caricatures, Chakravarty has doodled them all. Many of his cartoons also give insights and interesting details about the behaviour of various wild species while others address burning environmental issues.
This article first appeared on India Climate Dialogue.