Every morning, I embark on an adventure on the internet. I scroll through an endless bramble of memes, virtually trek across selfies, climb vines and sometimes fall into a puddle of endless food videos. Through the expedition, if there’s one time that I pause, read and giggle, it is when I come across a post by the Instagram account, Green Humour.
The handiwork of illustrator Rohan Chakravarty, Green Humour is a series of comics and illustrations all about the wild things: animals, conservation and the environment.
“My prime intention is to make mischief—the conversation is a byproduct of that,” Chakravarty tells us, and his tongue-in-cheek illustrations definitely support that statement.
When it comes to topics for humour, who would ever expect the environment to be the trunk of all jokes, right? Chakravarty is barking up the right tree, however, because his Instagram account has over 12,000 followers and his posts engage people from all over the world, stirring conversation. A lot of his followers come from a science and ecology background, but there are still many are simply have a passing interest in wildlife and the environment.
To them, Chakravarty helps impart trivia, facts and about Indian wildlife, one comic strip panel at a time. His intention, apart from the mischief-making, is to inform people that there’s so much more to wildlife beyond the tiger and the elephant. He does so by drawing about unique less-known animals, species that are on the brink of endangerment, or just putting the environment at the centre of his panels. For example, a comic strip based on the birds with the world’s longest migration pattern, the Arctic Tern, has a fun take on how we can take tips on sustainable travel from them.
So how did this journey begin? Coming from a small town where art wasn’t 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.
The themes of the comics by Green Humour are often topical, and are sometimes on sustainable fashion, reusable sanitary napkins, and using eco-friendly Ganesh for Ganesh Chaturthi. Other times, they are also 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.
Do the comics have a real-life impact, or are they just for laughs? When Chakravarty posted about different eco-friendly sanitary napkins one can use, he got a large response from women in India who never knew about these 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 converted into a pet at a threatening rate. Soon after, he heard back from a reader in Peru who told him that although he was going to buy the Marmoset as a pet, after reading the comic, he no longer would.
“There is an impact, maybe on a microscopic level, but it all adds up,” shares Chakravarty.