A map, as we know, is an important document that helps us to navigate and give direction to our destination. But, along with these, there are creative maps that give us an idea about the cultural wealth of a place.
There are also some very interesting maps that focus on the wildlife of a place. These maps are really important as they gives us an overall idea of the biodiversity of that place.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, June 5, Goa based eco-tourism and conservation education organization, Mrugaya Xpeditions, released The Wildlife Map of Goa, which has been designed by cartoonist, illustrator, wildlife buff and creator of the series Green Humour, Rohan Chakravarty.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
“We have been wanting to do this for a long time. The genesis possibly is that when we alight from the flight and see all kinds of advertising at the airport, but not much that speaks about Goa and its natural spaces. That got us thinking, and we decided to get the map commissioned with the hope that one day, it would be displayed prominently at both the airports and other public spaces,” says naturalist Parag Rangnekar of Mrugaya Xpeditions who is also one of the researchers who discovered Goan Shadow Dancer, a species of a dragonfly.
ABOUT THE MAP
This much-needed map speaks, in brief, about the wildlife (which includes forest species, pelagic birds, butterflies, marine animals, species found around wetlands, amphibians, reptiles) and also common species of trees found in Goa.
The map lists 20 main places that include wildlife sanctuaries of Goa, waterfalls, turtle nesting beaches, and also man-made structures like churches, dams, etc.
Parag informs that this whole exercise took around six months and involved a lot of discussion and brain-storming sessions.
“We worked very closely with Rohan to discuss and finalise the elements that would best represent the various ecosystems. For us, every element was important, but then we had to pick and choose, which took a lot of debates and time,” adds Parag.
The map focuses on species that are endemic, threatened as well as those described from the state. “We also tried to show some features like myristica forests, and the Protected Area (PA) network.
The ones marked with a red dot on the map are threatened species like Slender Loris, Pangolin, tiger, leopard, Amboli Bush Frog, Malabar Tree Toad, Great Hornbill etc. And the ones marked with a star are state symbols. We have tried to represent lesser fauna, too,” informs Parag.
Rohan has previously done a Panjim map showcasing urban biodiversity; this exercise was meant to present the other side of Goa.
“I always wanted to draw Goa as there are misconceptions that Goa is only about beach-hopping and a party place. Also, I knew most of its wildlife, but then, you always discover something new, like dragonflies found in Goa or windowpane oysters, which have become a rarity now. I always presumed that it was a common thing, but due to overharvesting it is diminishing now. These are the localised issues and observations,” states Rohan.
He further informs that while making such maps he makes sure that there is a balance between specific and generic information, focus on endemic species.
“In the Western Ghats, there are so many endemic species such as Castle Rock Night Frog or Malabar Imperial Pigeon, and there’s a good chance of spotting them at Cotigao or Netravali. Even though they are endemic to the Western Ghats, they become a speciality for a place like Goa,” says Rohan.
The map lists around 75 species, which is a mix of common and not-so-known species. Rohan further states that he also wanted to include more species of spiders, geckos, etc. but due to space constraints, it was not possible to include all the species of flora and fauna.
Rohan, who has done such numerous state wildlife maps, also of various countries and also some focusing on different species of wildlife, maintains that his maps are meant to engage the layman in order to understand the wealth of biodiversity that a place has, and also the looming threats to them.
Rohan, who started this journey of mapping more than a decade ago, elaborates that the response for these maps has been tremendous. His wildlife map of India is taught in schools and part of the curriculum.
That’s not all; his maps are also used as a tool for policy. He gives an example of the trans-boundary map of Kaliash Sacred Landscape which is used by three countries — India, Nepal and Tibet and is also part of MOEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India) office. Also its Assam Biodiversity map is on display at Guwahati Airport, a map for WWF is on display at Schengen Airport, China.
He says, “There are impacts beyond just awareness. These are also impacting the governance, policy and the way policy-makers look at natural resources. Maybe in a small way, but it does make an impact. It also becomes an information sharing prospect on social media.”
For prints of The Wildlife Map of Goa, write to email@example.com