Spot me if you can

The project revolves around five leopards found in Maharashtra’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park, their impact, characteristics, misconceptions, troubles they face, and some very real stories. It also talks about their relationship with humans and what we should/can do to help them.
It was made in collaboration with Museum of Solutions, which is a children's museum.
Timeframe : 2 months

project overview

This project goes into the detailed stories of five leopards in Mumbai. It was made in collaboration with Museum of Solutions, which is a children's museum. I wanted to get the leopard stories across so that children have a little context when they think about leopards, and also wanted to bring to light what these leopards are currently facing due to some of the infrastructure projects in Mumbai.

With this project, I intend to pass on some information about leopards in their own city to children. By adding the layers of magic ink, augmented reality, and the freedom to draw out their own stories, children understand that there really is more than one way to tell a story. Also the very fact that all this is visible to them only after really looking for it; otherwise it’s only an empty forrest, shows that there are things that we don’t always see. That is the point of the project, to acknowledge that things are not always the way they seem. Combining it to animal perspectives will help the children be more empathetic and learn how to put themselves in another’s shoes, truly realizing what it means to look at a single thing with multiple perspectives.

MuSo context

Museum of Solutions (MoSo) is a new, world-class children’s museum being developed by an Industrial Foundation in Mumbai, India. It will bethe first interactive and immersive learning environment of its kind for children in India. MuSo’s vision is to inspire, enable, and empower childrento make meaningful change in the world together, today. The museum would focus on developing programs and exhibits that are designed tocultivate the knowledge, skills, and actions for kids to understand and require them to think about solving the challenges as they see aroundthem and make progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.” ~ Rudolf Steiner

As an informal space for learning, museums provide opportunities for children to develop their creative expression, innovative skills and criticalthinking. It is like going to school, in a museum, studying from artifacts, engage in project based and place based learning and design solutionsfor real problems of today and tomorrow. It becomes a space where children learn by playing, interacting with the artifacts/exhibits without thetension of outcomes. The project provides an opportunity to create immersive and interactive artifacts/exhibits that will encourage learning andengagement for the children visiting the museum, it has to be hands-on, fun, and playful — but also focused on the real world.

research questions

  • How do you used play based learning to keep children engaged? 
  • What is the limit of theoretical information that should be provided to a child, thereby preventing them from losing attention? 
  • How do you get children familiar with real world problems regarding the consequences of human-animal conflict, without exposing it in a harsh way? 
  • Where do children from varying households currently get their information about this topic from? Are there artists who currently work with children, to educate them about a similar theme? 


Round 1


  • Four of the 15 critically endangered species are major vulture species which used to be seen in Mumbai in abundance.
  • The drug diclofenac administered to cattle as a painkiller causes kidney failure in vultures when they feed on them.
  • Vultures not only clean up the land, but they also eliminate the need for treatment and incineration of thousands of tons of animal remains every year.
  • This avoids the potential emission of hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 per year, benefiting our environment and society as a whole.


  • Listed as “vulnerable” – just short of endangered –by a Red List maintained by the International Unionfor Conservation of Nature, leopard (Pantherapardus) is classified as needing the highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Leopards are India’s most widespread and adaptablebig cats and a keystone species. Their presenceindicates the well-being of wild areas, forests and water sources, which sustains wildlife.
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, is home toleopards (Panthera pardus), who have historicallybeen a part of this landscape. They promote Livingwith Leopards, where humans and leopards cancoexist.
  • Leopards are territorial, they need space to grow.Even if the supply of dogs and livestock continues,the population cannot grow beyond a certainthreshold level.

Tide pools:

  • Tide pools or “intertidal ecosystems” are one of Mumbai’s best-kept secrets. Worldwide, hundreds of
    thousands of sea turtles a year are accidentally caught.
  • When the tide retreats, it leaves behind shallow pools that stay trapped in the shore’s rocky gaps and cracks
  • Fishermen can claim compensation only thrice a year for rescue of endangered marine life, and this compensation decreases every time : Maharashtra• fisheries department.
  • Tide pools are extremely important to the dynamics ofcoastlines because they provide food and shelter to anumber of fish and invertebrate species.


After creating a children’s panel of 5 children from Mumbai, I first spoke to them very casually just to learn a little more about them and try to make them comfortable with me. The next time I created three jigsaw puzzles by creating illustrations and plugging them into an online puzzle generator for each of the three animals as a research method. This was to observe which of them engaged the children more. It showed me that the children were most interested with the leopard, and knew more about vultures than I thought.

Round 2

Threat to Leopards:

  • Various infrastructure projects have been proposed to go through, over andunder Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and have the potential to destroy theforrest land which is home to many animals.
  • Leopards have also been dying due to automobiles. They are often the
    victim of a hit and run. The construction of highways and roads, without mitigation measures, passing close to forest have proven fatal for wild animals while crossing the roads.
  • These proposed infrastructure projects threaten to fragment leopard habitats in Mumbai.
  • Their current distribution and numbers have significantly decreased across the range due to habitat loss, prey depletion, conflict and poaching over the last century.
  • Despite decreasing numbers and range, their ubiquitous presence across human habitations leads to misconceptions regarding their current abundance.
  • Not only are several subspecies and regional populations critically endangered but also the overall range loss is greater than the average for terrestrial large carnivores.

Human Leopard Conflict:

  • Leopards are often thought of as a threat to humans, but rather than being aproblem in Mumbai, they may actually be helping their human neighbours – evensaving their lives.
  • Wild animals such as leopards belong in forests. If they lived in farmlands, it was just a matter of time before they attacked people.
  • Research shows that moving carnivores does not solve the problem of run-ins with humans.
  • Leopards that gave humans a wide berth are traumatised by the capture operation, when hundreds of people yell, poke, pull their tails, and bang the metal bars of the cage. In a desperate attempt to get away, the terrified cats slam against the enclosure, ripping claws, breaking canines, and fracturing skulls.
  • Leopards who have been coexisting alongside humans for a while in Mumbai, understand the habits and schedules of the residents and plan their activities to avoid interactions. Leopards have proven that they can coexist peacefully with humans, it’s the humans that need to reciprocate.
  • Leopards are the least likely to attack humans. One scenario where a leopard may threaten humans is if it is injured and unable to hunt. Another is if a mother feels that her cubs are threatened.

Aarey Milk colony:

  • The leopard population in Aarey Milk Colony (AMC) is small and often studied together with the leopards in the bordering Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) which has one of the highest density of leopards in the world. But with Aarey now a proposed site for a metro project, the wildlife of AMC specifically, is in focus.
  • The tribal communities in Aarey that worship the Waghoba deity representing usually a tiger or leopard  believe it is the protector of the jungle and of them. The tribal communities have a deeper understanding of their wild neighbours which automatically creates deeper empathy and enables them to share the space and coexist peacefully.
  • A collaborative initiative between citizens, wildlife researchers and theforest department is monitoring and collecting data on wildlife, particularly leopards, in Aarey Milk Colony. The tracking efforts are important to build an understanding of the predators in the populated urban space and develop peaceful coexistence between leopards and humans sharing the same space.

Possible Solutions:

  • Anand Patil from Palghar said, “There has been an increase in the number of wild animals getting killed while trying to cross the road or highway. The only way to reduce such incidents is by constructing an underpass or overpass at various locations where the roads and highways pass close to the forest.”
  • “Installation of speed governing cameras, sufficient signages to warn motorists that they are passing through wildlife areas, marking roads near wildlife passes with rumbler strips could be some other measures to be adopted to control over speeding of vehicles. Large mammals should be monitored using technology so that critical animal crossings could be determined. These could then be fenced and the animal movement diverted through specially designed underpasses,” Gore added.
  • There is an increasing need for corridor connectivity, and improvement of habitat, to reduce interface with humans and thereby reducing the chance of conflict.

How to avoid being attacked:

  • Don't approach too closely, especially if you see cubs, either alone or with their mother.
  • Keep small children secure at night when camping in areas frequented by leopards.
  • If a leopard charges, shout, clap your hands and wave your arms to appear bigger.
  • Walk back slowly and give the leopard space to pass by.
  • Call forrest officials immediately.


In a setting where cars are speeding on a road, when a leopard is crossing, and the drivers cannot see the leopard, how should the leopard get to the other side of the road without being hurt?
Three of the kids said that they would make a bridge so that the leopard could go over it, and one of them said that they would make the car stop somehow. On asking her how she would make it stop, she said that there could be barriers or traffic lights or speed bumps, or a person who makes the vehicles stop.

We then played a fact bingo game with the image below where each child selected 6 facts and we played bingo.

This way they remember more, and it teaches me more about what children are interested in. The children were excited to play this. First chose facts that were shorter than the others, second chose mainly characteristics, third chose the leopards abilities, and fourth picked rather randomly.
After the games, I asked the children to draw a story or a scene from the leopards point of view and send it to me whenever they get time. This was the result.

insights generated

  • Children between the age of 8-12 are often learning about the ecosystem in school. They also learn about the roles of some animals in the ecosystem. For example, they knew about how vultures are scavengers and help the environment.
  • Many children prefer learning about the animal itself, and not how they effect the environment.
  • Games make children open up more than just a conversation. They are also keep them engaged for longer and increase their curiosity.
  • Even in Mumbai, many people do not know about Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and are unaware about the number ofleopards they are living with.
  • Due to urbanisation and expansion of movement networks, the forrest area in Mumbai is reducing. This results in road accidents and leopards coming into human societies, hence increasing the possibility of conflict.
  • Although efforts are being made to track the movement of leopards to keep human and animal conflict to a minimum, the mainissue is a lack of awareness. Not all people know what to do when they spot a leopard.
  • Children respond better to positive information, so the project will be mostly light and happy, giving them solutions and asking them for more.


The way I have designed the project, it starts with wonder not the problem. The children first have to find the leopards before realising the problems they face. I have also kept it simple and given it layers so that it is more accessible. It requires you to move and climb around, making them ‘do’ so that they understand and has a positive takeaway. It also gives them complete control since not only can they find the leopards and their stories, they also have the option of learning more and in the end creating their own stories. It is an interactive exhibit for children and adults.

Aims and objectives

Logline - " I engage with the world around me, to understand it from multiple perspectives, to make a change. "


Mural (painting)

The painting is what I spent the most time on after the research phase. Although I had a slight idea of what I wanted it to look like, I still kept adding elements until the forrest looked full.

Hidden component - UV light

Once the light hits the mural, you will see hidden leopards in their natural habitats with their real stories, alternate ways for the leopard to cross the road, facts, some human and leopard interaction to teach children what to do when you spot one. Some images taken below are in the dark for a clear photograph, but you can see everything clearly in light too, which is shown in the video of the outcome.

Hidden component - Augmented Reality

Stories of three of the leopards are made into animations in Augmented Reality as a prototype to show what it could look like, using Adobe Aero. The animation has a narration, sound effects, leopards, birds, plants, vehicles and more visual aids to help tell a more detailed story than seen in the uv light. The animations start when you go close to a leopard seen on your screen and the plan is to have more interactive elements placed which you can play with before or after watching the set stories. Elements of these also come into your own space at some point, for example in this case, a leopard or butterfly.


The big torch is to be kept a few metres from the wall, always turned on. This is a 1:5 scale model of it, made out of pencil, reused cardboard and sunboard, and a uv light torch.
As a surprise element, at the bottom, the mural says that you can draw your own stories with the markers found below the big torch. So there is a small box below the torch filled with markers.

I made some torches in the form of light sabers and a movable ladder to add a fun element.

final video


This is the first time I designed something for children, and absolutely loved the process. Not only did it give me another lens to look from, it also made me understand that we are not that different from children. They know a lot more than we give them credit for, and we enjoy many of the same things. One big example of this is, games and play. As adults, we too love adding the element of play to as many things as we can; whether it’s deciding where to eat, or planning a fun way to study/learn. This is why I added an element of play to my project. Not only did the children I spoke to find it more interesting, even my friends and family who are my age or older thought it would be something they would like. I think the point in the project where we had to decide the final outcome is where I struggled a little for the same reason. After all the primary and secondary research, I was sure I wanted to add an element of play, but was unsure about how to do it. Finally, after looking at many examples online, I found a poem online that was written with invisible ink in a gallery. This was for adults, but I knew that I could use it for children somehow.

I went where the process took me, and I am very glad about it. In the beginning of starting to paint my mural, I had no plans of adding a digital aspect to it. In fact at the time I did not even think that I was going to use real leopard stories. All this came along the way and I am very happy that it did.My timeline also worked well as I made sure to stick to my weekly plans.
The only thing that I think I could have worked on a little more is making the leopards in the augmented reality more interactive, and that is the next step. Until now, everything was planned to tell their story in a set manner, but I would like to deconstruct that and make the story a game as well, where the children are finding out more about the leopard after every step.
However, I am happy with this outcome as well and I am very excited to test it with children in real time. This was not possible until now due to the lockdown because of covid, but hopefully will be in the near future.