A video accompanying a post is being widely shared on social media claiming that the Lions of Gir Forest in Gujarat have survived the recent Cyclone Tauktae. Let us fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: Video of Lions in Gir Forest survived Cyclone Tauktae.
Fact: The video was shot at the MalaMala game reserve located within Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga province in South Africa on 13 February 2021, according to an Instagram post by the Game Reserve and several news articles. Gujarat officials who have posted that the video was in relation to Gir forest have apologised after sharing the video. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
When we did reverse image search on the screenshots of the video, we found an Instagram post by MalaMala Game Reserve published on 13 February 2021, containing the same video. The Instagram post describes that this video was part of a Safari in MalaMala Game Reserve where they witnessed a Pride of Lions named Nkuhuma Pride and later another Pride of Lions named Kambula Pride. MalaMala Game Reserve is located within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga province in South Africa.
When we searched for news articles to find out about the claims made in the video, we found few news articles. The news article titled ‘Gujarat officials apologise after sharing video of lions from South Africa that claimed Gir lions are safe after Cyclone Tauktae’ confirms that the video was shot at a South African game reserve earlier this year. As Cyclone Tauktae ravaged several parts of Gujarat wreaking havoc in many coastal districts, people were also concerned about the wildlife in the state; the state forest department tried to allay the fears by tweeting out a video that claimed to show a pride of lions in Gir crossing a stream says the article. However, upon finding that the video was fake and is originally of African lions, the video was deleted, and apology was issued, according to the article. Articles regarding this incident can be seen here and here.
The video had even been tweeted by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar saying that he was happy to know that lions are safe in Gir landscape post Tauktae Cyclone. However, the tweet attached to his post was later deleted. Dr. Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest & Environment) for State Government of Gujarat had posted an apology letter through his Twitter post for the wrong video. It is regretted that a wrong video was posted along with a statement of lion safety in Gir landscape, Chief Wildlife Warden Shyamal Tikadar had apologised for his lapse and indiscretion, inconvenience, and confusion caused is sincerely regretted with an assurance for double caution in future, says the Twitter post.
Regarding the safety of Gir Lions post Tauktae Cyclone, the Gujarat State Forest Department had responded in its Twitter post. The forest department said the lions had moved to safety on their own during the storm, but no lions were missing. Other posts by the Gujarat State Forest Department regarding Gir lions’ status can be seen here and here. However, a few media reports quoting senior forest officials mentioned that 18 lions were reported missing from the coastal districts of Amreli, Gir Somnath, and Bhavnagar which bore the maximum brunt of the cyclone.
To sum it up, video from South Africa passed off as Gir Lions having survived Cyclone Tauktae.