An Instagram Account Bringing The Living Planet Close To Home

Bhavika Govil spoke to illustrator Rohan Chakravarty, the illustrator behind Green Humour, on how he got started combining humour with the natural world. This article was first published in 2018
Rohan Chakravarty at the 2024 World Environment Education Congress in Abu Dhabi
Rohan Chakravarty at the 2024 World Environment Education Congress in Abu DhabiCopyright: Rohan Chakravarty

Every morning I embark on an adventure. I scroll through an endless bramble of memes, virtually trek across selfies, climb vines and sometimes fall into a puddle of endless food videos. The only times I pause to read (and laugh) is when I come across a post by the Instagram account Green Humour.  

The brainchild of illustrator Rohan Chakravarty, Green Humour is a series of comics and illustrations about the living planet in all of its splendid beauty and sadness. 'My prime intention is to make mischief. The conversation is a by-product of that', says Chakravarty. His tongue-in-cheek illustrations definitely support that statement.

A comic on the patterns of the whale shark
A comic on the patterns of the whale sharkCopyright: Rohan Chakravarty

Who would have thought that the natural world would be a minefield of laughter and humour? Chakravarty is barking up the right tree, however, because his Instagram account has over 151,000 followers, and his posts engage people from all over the world. A lot of his followers have a science and ecology background but there are many more who have a passing interest in wildlife and the environment.

For them, Chakravarty's illustrations impart trivia and facts about Indian wildlife one comic strip at a time. His intentions are to expand people's understanding that there's so much more to wildlife beyond just tigers and elephants. He draws (pun intended) attention to unique and less well-known animals, species that are on the brink of extinction or are endangered, and makes the environment the centrepiece of his work.

The Arctic tern has one of the longest migration patterns in the world
The Arctic tern has one of the longest migration patterns in the worldCopyright: Rohan Chakravarty

For example, a comic strip based on the Arctic tern, a bird with the world's longest migration pattern, was turned into in a how-to guide to travelling sustainably.

The origins of Chakravarty's vocation could not be humbler. Coming from a small town where art wasn't seen as a respectable career option, Chakravarty first found a foothold in dentistry. It was when he had his first encounter with a tigress that he decided to let go of the dental drill and pick up the paintbrush again. Since then he has drawn for several magazines, illustrated wildlife maps for tiger reserves and national parks, and written children's books.

A recent comic strip
A recent comic stripCopyright: Rohan Chakravarty

The themes of his comics are often topical and range from sustainable fashion and reusable sanitary napkins to using ecofriendly Ganesh idols for Ganesh Chaturthi. Other times they are a commentary on the interplay of politics and the environment. '[The situation is] going from bad to worse. We really need to prioritise the reportage of environmental issues so that it makes it to the headlines and front pages', Chakravarty says.

Beyond the laughs, do his comics have a real world impact?

The pygmy marmoset comic
The pygmy marmoset comicCopyright: Rohan Chakravarty

When Chakravarty posted about different ecofriendly sanitary napkins, he got a large response from women in India who never knew about such options. Another time he had drawn up a comic on the the world's smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset from South America, which was being fast becoming a sought-after pet on the continent. He then heard from a reader in Peru, who told him that although he was initially going to buy the marmoset as a house pet, he had decided not to after reading Chakravarty's comic.

According to the illustrator, 'There is an impact, maybe on a microscopic level, but it all adds up'. I couldn't agree more.

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