Caught by a camera trap, a leopard prowls under the dense canopy of the Jeypore-Dehing lowland rain forest in the northeast Indian state of Assam (map).
Released in February, the picture was taken during a two-year survey supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The research found seven cat species in a 354-square-mile (570-square-kilometer) range—the highest diversity of cat species yet photographed in a single area.
Wildlife biologist Kashmira Kakati had been studying the gibbons of Jeypore-Dehing and became curious about the predator tracks she kept finding on the ground.
"I said, I need to find out what's there," Kakati told National Geographic News. "Nobody had any clue. People who had been in the forest 30 years didn't know."
With 30 digital camera traps, Kakati captured not only the cats but a number of other rare forest animals between 2007 and 2009. "Even I was surprised by the result," she said. (See related pictures of a rare Chinese wildcat snapped by a camera trap.)
(Related: National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)