THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.
Are you one of those that feel that the environment crisis is no laughing matter?

Or are you tired of the dark gloomy images that the media is constantly flashing before us to remind us that the world is coming to an end?

Whatever your stand, a sense of humour is something that all of us need. Maybe more so now than ever. This newsletter is about Green Humour - a series of cartoons and illustrations made by Rohan Chakravarty - cartoonist with a passion for Nature. 
Notorious for rolling up into a ball like a pangolin to avoid answering the phone or meeting people, Rohan is a cartoonist, illustrator hailing from Nagpur, the 'Tiger Capital of the World'. A memorable encounter with a beautiful tigress bathing in a Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary waterhole led him to give up a career in dentistry and take up drawing for wildlife and conservation. Other than Green Humour, he has done cartoons and illustrations for several other publications and organizations such as WWF, Nat Geo Traveller, IDFC, Standard Chartered Bank, Titan, Istock.
How did Green Humour begin? 
'I grew up in a small town Nagpur where young men still feel that only medicine or engineering are careers worth pursuing. I also chose to study dentistry but midway through my studies I started volunteering for a programme called Kids for Tigers run by the Sanctuary magazine team. The exposure to this programme activated my dormant interest in wildlife. I had been dabbling in cartooning for a while but this gave me a focus to find my feet as an artist. After a few of my cartoons got published I started to put together my own website and thus began Green Humour in 2010.'
Why did you choose humour as a way to promote conservation? 
'My work began with a commentary on social and political issues but I soon realised there was no humour in the wildlife conservation sphere. The conservation field, is fraught with jargon and a verbosity that a select few understand. I wanted to break this, and offer ideas in a simple and accessible language. I stay simple. I don't identify myself as an intellectual. Wild animals are my leading protagonists and my audience is mostly people who live in and around wildlife sanctuaries. I don't have a specific genre of humour - sometimes it is scientific sometimes slapstick. I allow the stories to reveal themselves and I always keep my audiences in mind - children and rural folk are among them. I have mostly created cartoons in English but also some of them in Hindi which requires a different sense of humour.'
Why are visuals important in conservation?
'For me, drawing is a way of remembering things as I cannot retain much text for long. Visual aids also help to make conservation less exclusive and elite. The next generation has a very short attention span and so a cartoon can get across a thought quickly. '

Rohans cartoons and posters are powerful educational tools - bringing out details about various species in a humorous way. Contrasting animal behaviour with that of humans, make it easier for the audience to identify with the wildlife and marvel at their abilities. 
What do you expect the impact of your cartoons to be?
'Initially I was just having fun making the cartoons. But as I started to receive feedback from my readers I realise that they have the power to change peoples though processes. I once received a message from someone in Peru who read my cartoon about the Pygmy Marmoset monkey and the impact that wildlife trade was having on its populations. The reader said that he had been thinking of buying one but after reading my cartoon he decided against it. Listening to this anecdote, convinced me that my work was having an impact in changing peoples mindsets and choices.'
What is the response to your work? 
'I now have 50000 followers on Facebook , around 25000 on Instagram and between 4- 5000 on Twitter. Social media works very well with cartooning as it depends a lot on visuals. The cartoons are being printed by newspapers such as The Hindu, Midday, Gocomics and magazines like Saevus. I have worked on several wildlife conservation projects and also illustrated several books. It seems like people are appreciating the medium and also my style.' 
Visit his Facebook page here
What do you see as the future of wildlife in India?
'The current obsession with development at any cost is a great threat to wildlife in our country. Governments that don't engage with science to make their decisions are risking the health of our natural resources, our wildlife and ultimately our people. I believe social media is going to play a huge role in putting pressure on the government to take conservation issues seriously. India still has a few islands of rich biodiversity but I fear for the future of these, in the hands of political leaders who do not understand the role they play. We may aspire to bullet trains but we risk losing the very species that inspired us to create the bullet train.'
'While the younger generation is easy to influence via social media its short attention span is also fickle. Social media polarises people and does not allow for objectivity or neutrality in the rush to express opinions for or against. It does not support a scientific questioning temperament.' 
If you were an animal which one would you choose to be? 
'I would choose to be a pangolin, so that I can roll up into a ball when the outside world becomes too much for me. I am a lone player - I don't do very well in teams and prefer to be left alone to create. We have two species of pangolin in India , both of which are very threatened by the demand for pangolins in China both for medicine as well as cuisine. It is one of the most trafficked mammals in the world today.' 
Read more about Pangolins and other wildlife on the Green Humour website
The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
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