Hyderabad: A photo of two cheetahs hunting a deer has been doing the rounds of social media. It is being claimed that the photographer grew depressed after watching the deer surrender to save its children.
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The claim is false.
NewsMeter performed a Google reverse image search and found the original website that had published the viral picture. The picture was taken by Alison Buttigieg, a wildlife photographer from Finland.
The website had a series of Buttigieg's photographs and also described the moment the photo was taken in September 2013 in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. "Narasha, the cheetah mom, was teaching her youngsters how to kill prey. However, they were a bit slow on the uptake and they were playing with the hapless Impala prey instead of killing it. Narasha, the cheetah mom, is the one that is grabbing the impala by the neck in all the photos. The youngsters practice some skills like pouncing and tripping which they get right, but they cannot seem to be able to get how to strangle the impala effectively," the article read.
It further said, "What is out of the ordinary in this sequence of photos is how calm the impala is throughout its ordeal. It is probably in shock and thus paralyzed with fear. It is disturbing how it seems to be posing in some photos, especially in the 6th one as if determined to stay beautiful and proud until its very end."
We also found a Facebook post by Alison Buttigieg from 13 February 2017. The same photo had been shared with the caption, "My Stranglehold photo went viral with a completely ridiculous fake story accompanying it, and implications I fell into depression after I took it (seriously who comes up with this crap?!?) - not to mention the gross copyright violations. Sensationalism at its best - complete fiction so that people get more likes on their page. The photo with the fake story has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on various social media. I am getting inundated by hundreds and hundreds of messages asking me whether I am the "depressed photographer". I have been tagged in LinkedIn with the fake story - that's going to do wonders for my career. What a vile world we live in, full of stupid gullible people spreading #fakenews like crazy."
We also found a report by DNA that had debunked the viral claim earlier on 13 February 2017 and quoted Alison Buttigieg as saying, "It is not true that I suffered from depression - it was just lies so that some people get more likes on their page. People steal photos all the time to get attention, but this was very rude and hurtful."
When asked if she knew her image for which she won accolades and even awards had become viral she replied, "Yes I know. Hundreds of people are sending me messages about my fake depression and why I didn't save the deer. It's been horrible. I have no idea who started this, I wish I knew."
Lastly, we compared both the pictures and found that the watermark was removed in the viral photo. We also noticed that the original picture had three cheetahs, while the viral picture had been cropped.
It is evident that the original picture was taken in 2013 and is currently being shared with false claims that the photographer went into depression after watching the deer surrender to the cheetahs to save its young.