Fact check: Images of burnt animals supposedly from Bandipur fire are fake

Old images of charred animals are being forwarded as animals that died in Bandipur forest fire.
Fact check: Images of burnt animals supposedly from Bandipur fire are fake
Fact check: Images of burnt animals supposedly from Bandipur fire are fake
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Warning: Graphic images

Multiple images of animals charred to death are being forwarded following the horrific forest fire in Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar district. The fire is estimated to have gutted 2,000 hectares of the forest. There have been reports of loss of wildlife, but nothing has been confirmed so far. As for the four images of animals charred to death doing the rounds, all of them are from different parts of the world and were taken at different times.

TNM did a reverse image search for each of the four pictures that we got on multiple WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages and this is what we found.


The image of the snake charred to death doing the rounds is from the department of Antioquia in northwest Colombia, in a fire that broke out in the Necoclí region. This image appeared online on April 24, 2015, for the first time, and therefore cannot be from Bandipur.  


The image of a rabbit suffering from burns is from the Woolsey Fire in Malibu in California, USA, that began on November 8, 2018. The image was taken by Chris Rusanowsky from the Zuma Press, and was taken on or before November 14, 2018.

This image is of endangered Bornean orangutans was taken in late February 2016 and released by the Center of Orangutan Protection on March 3, 2016, according to international news agency Agence France-Presse. It was taken after a forest fire at the Kutai National Park in Borneo Island, in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia. Orangutans are not found in India, and are only found in Borneo and Sumatra.


The final image is of a flock of sheep that were burned to death in a wildfire on July 23, 2012, in Darnius, close to the Spanish-French border, and reportedly gutted over 17,000 acres. It was taken by AFP photographer Lluis Gene.

Punnati Shridhar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), told TNM that the main tiger reserve was intact, and they have not, so far, seen dead animals. “As far as we could see, there were none. The animals usually move away seeing the heat. There is a lot of cooked up things in social media,” he said.

An activist present on the ground told TNM on Saturday that deer were seen running away from the fire. “This is also breeding season for reptiles and there are ground nesting which we expect will be affected,” the activist said.

(With inputs from Soumya Chatterjee)

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