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Viral Facebook post of elephant carrying thirsty lion cub is April Fools prank

“It was considered the best photo of this century. A lioness and her cub were crossing the savannah but the heat was excessive and the cub was in great difficulty walking. An elephant realised that the cub would die and carried him in his trunk to a pool of water walking beside his mother. And we call them wild animals.”

This is the caption of a picture doing the rounds on Facebook that shows an elephant walking with a lion cub nestled in its trunk, a lioness beside them.  

The image was originally posted on 1 April 2018 (your first clue) by Latest Sightings - Kruger, a Facebook page that helps users “see more animals through members sharing their wildlife sightings in real time”. Since then, it is believed to have reached over 20 million people. Many guessed it was fake, but more believed it was real.

An April 2018 article in the South African Jewish Report explains that the picture is indeed fake. The article interviews Nadav Ossendryver, founder of the Latest Sightings page, who photoshopped the image as an April Fools joke.

Ossendryver said the image was a composite of three separate photos.

A photo of an elephant in the Kruger National Park was used as the base. A second photo of a lioness was added, then a third of a lion cub, flipped to fit the curve of the elephant’s trunk.

Other clues such as inconsistent lighting and shadows have also been identified.

Ossendryver said he created the picture to “start a conversation”. The viral post had all the right ingredients to do this: good timing, plausibility and a touching story.  – Africa Check (30/01/19)  


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