The Karvi flower that blooms once in eight years, flamingo-watching spots, a new species of scorpion – there are among the many natural treasures that often go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai’s dense urban sprawl . Now, you can discover these wonders for yourself, with a first-of-its kind biodiversity map that has been created by illustrator and cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty as part of a campaign to highlight sustainable development.
Conceived by Purpose Climate Lab (PCL), the map is part of the Biodiversity by the Bay campaign, run by citizens’ collective, Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic and other partner organisations. “The campaign was designed to inspire citizens to use their creativity and collective power to fight for Mumbai’s biodiversity. This map is intended to inspire pride in all of Mumbai’s treasures,” said Sonali Bhasin, senior strategist, PCL.
The map shows urban and forest spaces in the Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR) and contains pointers to forest patches, intertidal spaces, mangrove areas, as well as animal species that can be found, like the two spiders, a scorpion, and a lizard species that were discovered in recent years in Aarey Milk Colony. “The motive behind producing this map, which will also be an interactive webpage, is to empower young Mumbaiites with a visual resource of their biodiversity, to instil a sense of pride and ownership in the city’s wildlife, and to drive responsible governance,” said Chakravarty.
It took dentist-turned-cartoonist Chakravarty a month to make the map, which provides an index of intertidal wildlife hotspots – Girgaum Chowpatty, Haji Ali, Carter Road, and Juhu Beach – as well as urban green spaces, mangrove forests, and wetland patches. He used information from experts, marine enthusiasts and scientific reports in addition to information provided by the PCL team. “Usually I conduct field visits before taking up such projects but because of Covid-19, this time I had to rely on secondary information,” said Chakravarty, who, as a wildlife and conservation enthusiast, has previously done nature walks in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and along the Mumbai coastline.
In addition to the city’s flora and fauna, the map also identifies spots for photography, nature trails, and other recreational activities. “I have laid emphasis on state symbols, animals discovered from Mumbai and also tribal heritage, with the compass paying tribute to the indigenous Warli art,” said Chakravarty. Among the green gems plotted on the map are the Karvi flower that blooms at Sanjay Gandhi National Park once in eight years; Mumbai’s infamous beach stinger, the Portuguese Man-o-war; and the two species of flamingo that come to the city.
“When we think of Mumbai, we immediately think of a fast-paced city with its vibrant film industry and endless opportunities. This iconic map highlights the flora, fauna, green spaces and indigenous communities of this region which remain hidden in the hustle and bustle of our city of dreams,” said Suma Balaram, senior designer, PCL.