Hyderabad: An image of an elephant holding a lion cub with its trunk and walking alongside a lioness is being shared on social media with the claim that the cub was facing difficulty walking due to excessive heat. The elephant helped the cub and carried it to a water source.
The image has been doing the rounds since 2018 and it can viewed here on Twitter: ""Lessons 4 humans" A lioness and her cub were crossing the savannah in the scorching heat and he was in danger An Elephant realized that the cub would die, lifted him with his trunk and carried him, walking with his mother, to a pool of water #BeMoreAnimal #BeWilder #BeSavage"
NewsMeter also received the viral claim on WhatsApp.
The claim is false.
NewsMeter performed a reverse image search and came across the image of the elephant that was uploaded on Wikimedia Commons. It said that it is Savanna elephant "Loxodonta africana" taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa. The Image dates back to 30 August 2006.
We also found the image of the lioness. It is from 2012 from a blog published on a website called 'Londolozi'. The description says the image was captured a month before the article was published in May 2012.
In 2018, a fact-checking website, Snopes, had showed that the original image of the lion cub was taken from Werribee open range zoo in Australia.
NewsMeter then performed keyword searches and found that on 1 April 2018, the Twitter account of Kruger Sightings had shared the image with a similar claim. But we noticed a line - 'Tinged by 'sloof lirpa' - which is an anagram of "April Fools", meaning that the image was one of the many spoof images and news articles put out on 1 April, the day traditionally reserved in Western countries for playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes.
Nadav Ossendryver who runs the Kruger Sightings account had tweeted about how they had made the April Fool's joke go viral. Also, Ossendryver told AFP that he had photoshopped the image.
Hence, the image of an elephant holding a cub in its trunk and walking alongside a lioness is a morphed image. The claim is false.