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Gujarat officials apologise after sharing video of lions from South Africa that claimed Gir lions are safe after Cyclone Tauktae

A top IAS officer from the state tweeted a video of lions crossing a waterway surrounded by tall Savanah grasses, claiming it showed aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae in Gir. The video was shot at a South African game reserve earlier this year.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 24, 2021 10:52:23 am
Cyclone Tauktae, Cyclone Tauktae gujarat, Cyclone Tauktae gir forest, gir lions Cyclone Tauktae, fake gujarat lion Cyclone Tauktae, gujarat forest department fake video, indian expressThe tweet was also retweeted by the official handle of the Gujarat Forest Department and Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Prakash Javadekar. (Source: @drrajivguptaias/ Twitter)

As Cyclone Tauktae ravaged several part of Gujarat this week, wrecking 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. The video, however, is fake and is originally of African lions taken at the Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. Hours later, the video was deleted and apology was issued.

A top IAS officer from the state tweeted a video of African lions crossing a waterway surrounded by tall Savanah grass. “Lions are completely safe in Gir landscape in the aftermath of #Tauktecyclone,” Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary of Forest & Environment Department, Gujarat had tweeted.

Tagging the Gujarat Forest Department, he further added that field staff has kept constant monitoring on lion movement in the region during the cyclone. “A rare video of a Pride in Akolvadi range Gir West crossing a water way safely, being shared,” he wrote while sharing the clip.

Dr Gupta deleted the video and issued a clarification on Twitter saying “it is regretted”. “The clip in question was sent by me as it was forwarded to me by an eminent wildlife enthusiast. Prima facie in the clip it appeared from Gir landscape,” said Dr Gupta in a statement.

Rajya Sabha lawmaker Parimal Nathwani, who had also shared the video, deleted it and tweeted a clarification.

The original tweet had triggered celebrations on social media that the lions were safe. However, in reality, the video is not from Gujarat, India, but from South Africa. The beautiful moment was captured after a torrential rain in the Mala Mala Game Reserve, located within the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga province. It is one of the biggest and oldest private game reserve in South Africa. The clip was shared on Instagram by the reserve in February this year.

The tweet was also retweeted by the official handle of the Gujarat Forest Department and Union Minister for Environment and Forest, Prakash Javadekar. “Happy to know that #LionsAreSafe in Gir landscape post #Tauktecyclone . Kudos to the @GujForestDept staff for constant monitoring,” the minister wrote while resharing the clip.

Although the video in question appeared to be fake, earlier on Wednesday, the Gujarat forest department assured that the lions in the state’s forest areas were safe amid the cyclone. DT Vasavada, Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh Wildlife Circle, said that no lions have gone missing due to the storm that hit Gujarat. All the lions of Gir-Brihadgir are safe.

The department had also issued a letter to state their claim and shared two images showing the protected wildcats safely roaming in their natural habitat.

The fake video started to get a lot of attention online, with many many falling for it and netizens lauding the forest officials for protecting the animals amid the storm. However, there were others who quickly noticed that the topography of the region doesn’t match the video and some also highlighted that the wildcats seen in the video are not Asiatic Lions.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday conducted an aerial survey of flood-ravaged Gir Somnath and Amreli districts before visiting these districts and assuring affected people that the government was with them in the hour of crises. The CM also announced that the government would pay cash doles to fishermen whose livelihood has been affected by Cyclone Tauktae.

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