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Mumbai-based photographer Nayan Khanolkar has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in the Urban Wildlife category. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award is organized every year by the Natural History Museum of London and BBC Wildlife. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious competition in the world. Nayan Khanolkars photograph is called The Alley Cat and it has been shot in the Aarey Milk Colony that borders the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Over the last few years there has been much talk about the human-animal conflict in Mumbai. The teeming metropolis has expanded rapidly and eaten into the citys green cover. It isnt unusual for leopards to be found wandering into human inhabitation. Also Read - Unlock 1.0 in Odisha: Hotels to Open at 30% Strength, Religious Places to Stay Closed Till June 30
Leopards are especially common among settlements that border the national park, which is one of the few in the world to be located within the city limits of a metropolis. This photograph by Sanjay Khanolkar shows a leopard walking down a deserted lane in the middle of the night. Khanolkar told The Guardian that he wanted the leopard to be an integrated part of the urban environment and that he was against the idea of relocating the cats to solve the conflict that has besieged several areas of Mumbai. According to Khanolkar the photograph conveys the co-existence humans and animals in an urban set up. (CHECK OUT The BEST wildlife photographs in the world!) Also Read - Mohena Kumari Singh And 6 Family Members Test Positive For COVID-19, All Hospitalised
However this is easier said than done. Leopard attacks make the front page of newspapers more often than you can imagine. The issue is tricky since the settlements that are under attack mostly belong to local tribes that have been part of the forest for generations.
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Just earlier this year, photographer Steve Winter aimed his camera at the same problem and threw light on the spectacular beasts on whose territories humans have encroached. Leopards, as Winter points out, are the most adaptable of the five big cats and are also the ones whove faced the most hostility from humans. Nat Geo and Winters posted these pictures on their Instagram accounts as part of the Big Cats Initiative to spread awareness about the extreme conditions these cats are facing. (ALSO SEE Stunning photographs of leopard in Mumbai like youve never seen before)
Nayan Khanolkars winning image will go on display at the Natural History Museum, London and on the BBC website.