Mumbai, the sprawling metropolis on India’s west coast and the country’s financial capital, is home to over 20 million people—and dozens of leopards.
These elusive big cats live in and around the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a 100-odd square kilometre reserve at the northern end of Mumbai. Surrounded by one of India’s largest cities, and living in close proximity to some 250,000 people who also call the national park home, these leopards sometimes come in conflict with humans, with deadly consequence. Still, they are surviving—and according to the latest census, perhaps thriving.
On Nov. 19, National Geographic published on Instagram an amazing photograph of two leopard cubs roaming a hilltop, with Mumbai’s sparkling cityscape in the background:
Shot by photojournalist Steve Winter, the image is part of a series of photographs accompanying American non-fiction writer Richard Conniff’s National Geographic Magazine story on the evolving relationship—and contest—between humans and leopards.
“India may be the real test of survival in a crowded world—and perhaps a model for it—because leopards live there in large numbers, outside protected areas,” Conniff writes, “and in astonishing proximity to people.”