Explore Rohan Chakravarty's Ecologically Conscious Map Of The Sunderbans

Rohan Chakravarty's cartographical illustration of the Sunderbans.
Rohan Chakravarty's cartographical illustration of the Sunderbans. Green Humour

The Sundarbans mangrove forest, situated at the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers along the Bay of Bengal, stands as one of the world's largest contiguous mangrove ecosystems, encompassing approximately 140,000 hectares. It is the most populated tiger reserve in the world but surprisingly not by tigers, but by humans. This unique habitat is intricately intertwined with the dynamic interplay of tidal waterways, mudflats, and salt-tolerant mangrove islands. Recognized for its ongoing ecological processes, this UNESCO-listed site is a testament to the delicate balance between land and water, nurturing diverse life forms both on land and within its aquatic realms.

Spanning the borders of India and Bangladesh the mangrove forest serves as a critical breeding ground for numerous endangered species. Amidst its labyrinthine water channels and tidal influences, the forest shelters globally endangered creatures such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Irrawaddy dolphins, the river terrapin and more. Moreover, the Sundarbans host a rich variety of flora, comprising 334 plant species across 245 genera and 75 families, along with 693 wildlife species, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, shrimps, crabs, and mollusks.

The intricate tapestry of biodiversity, however, faces significant challenges. Cyclones, saline water intrusion, siltation, over-exploitation of resources, illegal hunting, and encroachment threaten the delicate balance and integrity of this invaluable ecosystem. The impending impacts of climate change, including intensified cyclones and rising sea levels, further emphasize the need for concerted conservation efforts to safeguard the present residents of Sundarbans and to preserve its ecological riches for generations to come.

Rohan Chakravarty's cartographical illustration of the Sunderbans.
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Keeping in mind the ecological significance, biodiversity and various threats surrounding Sundarbans, we explore a poignant cartographical digital artwork by renowned Nagpur-based cartoonist and illustrator Rohan Chakravarty. An unforgettable encounter with a beautiful tigress bathing in a Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary waterhole changed the course of his life. He renounced his career in dentistry and took up drawing for wildlife and conservation. He is the creator of Green Humour, which is possibly the largest collection of cartoons on wildlife, nature conservation, sustainability and the environment on the web.

Rohan Chakravarty's cartographical illustration of the Sunderbans.
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In this latest artwork, he depicts the portion of the Sundarbans, within the Indian geographical borders. It illustrates the prominent plant and animal species coexisting alongside human communities within the delta. In doing so, it highlights the intricate interconnectedness of the mangrove and tidal ecosystems with the people who inhabit them. The map's artistic style draws inspiration from the Patachitra art of rural Bengal, while the compass design pays homage to the revered narrative of Bonobibi and Dokhhin Ray. This cultural and spiritual tale weaves the fabric of humanity and nature into a tightly bonded narrative.

The creation of this map was commissioned by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and currently graces the Sundarbans' mangrove interpretation center at Sajnekhali. Mr. Samrat Paul of WTI provided invaluable insights to Chakravarty during his field visit to the Sundarbans and that played an instrumental role in bringing this illustration to fruition. Sundarbans is an ecological gem at the brink of disappearance in the near future if we do not up the ante, in terms of conservation efforts. One can only hope that Chakravarty’s artwork continues to serve as a map and does not become a piece of archival history for future generations.

Click here to order prints of the map.

Follow Rohan Chakravarty here.

Find out more about the Wildlife Trust of India here.