“There are areas in Mumbai that are essentially shared by leopards and people. 9pm to 5am is leopard time, and the rest is for humans.”

Nayan Khanolkar grew up in Mumbai fascinated by the natural world. But it was while travelling in the Himalayas that he became intrigued by one of the most feared and maligned animals in Asia: the leopard.

After hearing a story of locals killing a leopard in a National Park, it got Nayan thinking – “it occurred to me that humans were encroaching on their territory, rather than the other way round”.

And so the 44 year-old biology teacher set out to take photos of these elusive beasts and gain a greater understanding of their habits.

His photos astonished experts around the world, winning the urban category of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016, but also showing the world just how much respect leopards deserve.

Photography by Ashima Narain