It was post 12.30 am on January 16 when Nayan Khanolkar got the one shot that would go on to win him the prestigious Wildlife Photographer Award, 2016 by the BBC and Natural History Museum in London. He worked patiently towards the photograph for four months.
On Wednesday, the 42-year-old was awarded the ‘Urban Wildlife category’ award in London. His picture shows a leopard staring directly into the lens as it walks underneath a tiny yellow bulb between two mud-splattered homes of tribals in Aarey Colony. This was the 52nd instalment of the award, in which Khanolkar won from 50,000 entries across 90 countries.
The Dombivli-based man had started following trail of the a leopard in Aarey Colony, Goregaon, from October 2015. With his infrared cameras, he would place them at a strategic points, ensuring the camera settings were best to capture the light, and hoping that the leopard would pass in front of it.
After four months of patience, in January, he found out that one of his cameras had shot a picture of a young leopard walking through the hamlet. He named it “The Alley Cat”.
“He is into wildlife photography since several years. For this picture, he wanted to depict how man and animal can live together,” said Khanolkar’s friend Rajan Joshi.
Khanolkar lives with his wife and parents in Dombivli. Every day, he would travel to Goregaon to check his cameras. He also works as a
research fellow with Bombay Natural History Society along with working on clicking pictures of big cats to create awareness on preserving them.