False claim on the viral ‘Herd of deer on Ooty-Coimbatore road’ photograph

A herd of deer NOT lounging on Ooty-Coimbatore road due to COVID-19 lockdown. Misinformation is circulating by verified twitter handles.

By Xappie Desk, March 28, 2020 17:33 IST

The viral image of Sika deer herd, shared by multiple verified twitter users, is in fact shot in Japan's Nara Park, dated 6 years back. The photograph is being circulated on social media platforms in the setting on COVID- 19 lockdowns happening in India. The false pitch for the photograph goes as if the herd of deer is lounging on empty roads of Ooty-Coimbatore, on highway stretch in Tamil Nadu.
The image is being circulated with captions that celebrate how wildlife is reclaiming public spaces, because of the nationwide lockdown. Starting March 25th, 2020 the restricted movement came into force, and the government is taking serious action against anyone who isn’t abiding with this curfew. In this background, people are bound to deal with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, both adults and kids. The notion of having animals out on the streets is bringing peace/joy to a lot of people. On the contrary, many stray animals are being provided with food and taken away from roads for providing proper care and shelter during these difficult times.
Tollywood filmmaker and producer Puri Jagannath also took to Twitter to share this photo. His caption read: “Hundreds of dolphins playing in marine drive in Mumbai, peacocks playing outside KBR park and deers resting on Coimbatore roads. Pl, remember we share this planet with them (sic).” Even IPS officer H.G.S. Dhaliwal posted the same image. Their tweets have gone viral, with around 4,800 likes and 895 retweets.
Mrinal Pande, a journalist and former chief editor of Hindi daily Hindustan, also indulged in sharing the same photograph without checking for reality. She shared the image this Friday. Her tweet read: “Wildlife reclaiming lost space, Ooty road…”
A simple Google search brought the reality in light, it happens to be a six-year-old photograph of Sika deer shot in Japan’s Nara Park. The photo first appeared along with an article that read “Nara’s deer take over one of the city's streets” in Japan Today on 28 July 2014.
It is being discovered that animals are well-known for crossing the park’s boundaries and wandering about. The same image was re-shared on 25th January 2018, on Facebook revealing a Japanese signboard. The same is missing in the photograph that is being circulated in India. But since it is an exact replica, it is clear that somebody cropped it out to use it in the Indian context.

Hundreds of dolphins playing in marine drive in mumbai, peacocks playing outside KBR park and deers resting on Coimbatore roads. Pl remember we share this planet with them pic.twitter.com/CEzGIEdCXP

— PURIJAGAN (@purijagan) March 24, 2020
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