A photograph of an impala under attack by a group of cheetahs has been doing the rounds on social media along with a moving story about the picture.
This is the circulated message verbatim:
This photo won the award for the best photo of the decade and led the photographer into depression.
The Cheetahs chased a mother deer and her 2 fawns (baby deers), the mother could've easily outrun Cheetahs but instead she offered herself to Cheetahs so that her kids to run to safety. In the picture she is seen looking at her baby's running safely as she is about to get torn into pieces. #MothersLove Picture Credit : Allison Buttigieg
Many users shared the picture as proof of a "mother's love". However, when several people messaged Alison Buttigieg, the wildlife photographer who lives in Finland about the image, it was revealed that the story was false. While the photograph she took was genuine, the spin given to it was the figment of someone's imagination gone wild.
Writing on her Facebook wall, the photographer said that this was "sensationalism at its best". She went on to say that she was inundated by messages asking if she was the "depressed photographer". Alison also directed people to her blog where she'd written about the photograph (and others in the same sequence) before it went viral.
Here's the thing: the picture is very much about motherhood, but not the impala's! The picture shows a mother cheetah teaching her young how to kill prey. The impala's "calm" look which was interpreted by earnest humans as "martyrdom" was actually paralysis due to fear and shock, Alison says.
You can read her description of the hunt here.
The typos in the story, factual errors (that was an impala, not a deer) as well as the rather vague "picture of the decade" award ought to have warned social media users that the story was fake but the "interpretation" was just too touching for most to interrogate its authenticity.
Speaking to DNA, Alison said, "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."
Did any good come out of this? Apparently, Alison has gained a LOT of Indian followers this week because of this picture!