Los Angeles, Mumbai Share Rare Trait Among Mega-Cities

They each have big cats
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2022 1:50 PM CDT
Los Angeles, Mumbai Share Rare Trait Among Mega-Cities
Mountain lion P-23 crosses a road in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.   (National Park Service via AP)

Los Angeles and Mumbai, India, share many superlatives as pinnacles of cinema, fashion, and traffic congestion. But another similarity lurks in the shadows, most often seen at night walking silently on four paws. These metropolises are the world’s only megacities of 10 million-plus where large felines—mountain lions in one, leopards in the other—thrive by breeding, hunting, and maintaining territory within urban boundaries, per the AP. Long-term studies in both cities have examined how the big cats prowl through their urban jungles, and how people can best live alongside them—lessons that may be applicable to more places in coming decades.

“In the future, there’s going to be more cities like this, as urban areas further encroach on natural habitats,” said biologist Audra Huffmeyer, who studies mountain lions at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If we want to keep these large carnivores around on the planet, we have to learn to live with them." In Los Angeles, for example, long-term mountain lion research showing the harm of fragmented habitat helped fuel a successful campaign to build a wildlife crossing bridge over US Route 101, one of the city’s busiest freeways. Construction began on April 22.

In Mumbai, one of the world's most densely populated cities, the leopards are packed in, too: about 50 have adapted to a space ideally suited for 20. And yet the nocturnal cats also keep mostly out of sight. "Because these animals are so secretive, you don’t know much about them. You can’t just observe them,” said Vidya Athreya, director of Wildlife Conservation Society in India and part of a research team that recently fitted five leopards with tracking collars. Read the full story, which digs into how learning to live alongside cats is not only a matter of infrastructure decisions, but also human choices and education.

(More Los Angeles stories.)

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