How can conservation of natural resources be made more appealing to people particularly children? Rohan Chakravarty, a wildlife cartoonist who is blessed with prowess with the pen, had the idea that if an illustrated map is used for popular Indian biodiversity spots with lush forests harboring endangered animals, birds and people that are enveloped by nature’s bounties, it would catch the attention of people.
Two map illustrations have been commissioned by the Wildlife Trust of India for the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh and for Manas National Park in Assam. The park or reserve including the terrain, animal habitats, threatened, endangered or vulnerable fauna and the interdependence of tribal communities, locals and wildlife will be depicted in the form of an illustrated map that is both educational and fun.
The illustrative maps will be pegged as souvenirs to be sold around these parks as some form of an awareness initiative. At first glance the illustrated map resembles a vibrant graphic design that looks like animals have been frozen in time. If you will look closer, it is a map illustration of crisscrossing rivers, diverse terrain and caricatures of Bodo and Assamese dancers with endangered species like Bengal florican and the Pygmy hog ambling in the grassland.
According to Chakravarty the most challenging aspect of the illustrated maps was to replicate the terrain as seen from Manas grasslands including the evergreen forests, montane forests, riverine ecosystems, lakes and marshses. What the map illustrator did was to interact with locals including forest officials so that he can witness the local activities and learn about the customs and the animal species that are found inside the park. Sketches were made from memory and photographs so that everything can be put together in the form of map artwork.
In addition to highlighting the important spots in the parks and reserves, the illustrative maps must show life in action. For example, the caricatures of two orphaned rhino calves being handraised by a veterinarian including smiling figures of locals who are engaged in rice and tea cultivation will make the illustrated map highly appealing to people.