A nearly five-year old image from Karnataka showing a burial ceremony for an elephant is being passed off as the last rites of the pregnant elephant whose tragic death in Kerala's Palakkad district made national headlines.
The viral image shows three monks dressed in saffron robes performing rituals as the elephant's body lies in a pit. Onlookers surrounding the pit watch the ceremony from above. The left leg of the elephant has the word 'Taralabalu' in Kannada written over it.
In a tragic incident this year, a pregnant elephant was grievously injured in Kerala's Palakkad district after she accidentally ate a coconut stuffed with explosives. The fruit was kept as a snare meant to scare off wild boars from local banana and pineapple plantations. She died of lung failure and malnourishment on May 27, 2020 after standing in a river for several hours to alleviate the pain.
The pregnant elephant's death created a furore on social media which was followed by a wave of misinformation.
A Hindi caption with the viral photo reads 'Rest in peace. Picture of the pregnant elephant's last farewell. Tributes. #Kerela (Sic)'.
(Hindi: Rest in Peace. गर्भवती हथनी की अंतिम विदाई की तस्वीर.. श्रधांजलि. #Kerela)
View the viral post below and check its archived version here.
The same image has been shared from several Twitter handles with similar caption.
*गर्भवती हथनी की अंतिम विदाई की तस्वीर..* *श्रधांजलि..* 🙏😢 pic.twitter.com/ySyQDXeNh3— सिर्फ हिन्दू राष्ट्र देश के लिए मोदी और योगी 🚩🚩 (@Yoshi88001) June 11, 2020
A reverse image search of the image yielded no results. Taking cue from the word Tarlabalu written in Kannada over the elephant's left leg, BOOM did a keyword search on Facebook with the word Taralabalu. We found a post on the Facebook page Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath from November 12, 2015 which shared the same image.
The picture of the elephant has been shared with a Kannada caption which translates to 'The elephant Gowri of Taralabalu mutt is no more'. The caption suggests that the name of the elephant was Gowri/Gauri.
(Kannada: Taralabalu matada Anne Gowri innila)
BOOM found that Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath is an organisation (mutt) in Sirigere town of Karnataka's Chitradurga district.
Another Facebook post shared from Taralabalu Infotainment on June 9, 2017 shares the same image with a long caption in Kannada.
This post also refers to the elephant as Gauri from the Taralabalu Jagadguru Mutt, Sirigere.
We did another keyword search with Kannada words 'The elephant Gowri of Taralabalu mutt is no more' and found an article published on November 13, 2015 in Kannada website of One India. The report mentioned that Gauri, an elephant with the Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru Mutt, had died earlier that month.
BOOM also matched the photos of the monks seen in the news report with those shown performing the last rites of the animal in the Facebook post and found them to be the same.
The mutt was not immediately reachable for a comment. The article will be updated if we get a response.
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