These 'Pink Tusk' Anti Poaching Images Are Photoshopped

Images of the elephant and rhino have been digitally altered to illustrate a proposed anti-poaching strategy using dye.


Images of an elephant with pink tusks and a rhino sporting a brightly coloured horn have resurfaced on social media as part of a viral meme. Purported to be examples of a new strategy to deter poachers using a special dye, the pictures were digitally altered to illustrate a proposed conservation initiative that was ultimately dismissed as impractical and pricey.

The Facebook post, archived here, has been shared more than 43,500 times since 2015.

An image saved on March 2, 2020, from the misleading Facebook post

It claims that the dye makes the tusks and horn "unsellable" and unable to be consumed, while being perfectly harmless to the animal.

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A reverse image search of the meme finds a 2015 article by Save The Rhino, titled "Dyeing rhino horn and elephant ivory".

It describes how in 2013 digital news and lifestyle magazine, Take Part, reported on efforts by a private game reserve in South Africa to deter poachers and devalue rhino horns by injecting a liquid pink dye -- toxic only to humans -- into the horns of 100 rhinos.

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An archived version of the Take Part page shows an image of a rhino with a purple horn and a caption that reads: "This photo has been digitally altered and is not an actual photo of a rhino at Sabi Sand. (Photo: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty)".

A screenshot taken on March 2, 2020 of the rhino image and its original caption on Take Part

Researchers looked into the efficacy of the horn infusions in this 2014 report and concluded the pink dye wasn't an efficient poaching deterrent.

According to their study, the dye did not permeate the entire horn, as shown in the digitally-altered image, and the exercise would be too costly and impractical.

"The infusion procedure takes at least 30 minutes per rhino (Rhino Rescue Project 2013). Together with searching, immobilizing, treating, reversing, and preparing drugs and equipment, a team can expect 90 minutes to complete treatment of one rhino, allowing a maximum of four rhinos a day if the area is large and finding rhinos is difficult," the report reads.

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"In addition to such logistical requirements, a key challenge will be to identify and separate treated rhinos from untreated ones, extending the periods of operations in large areas and populations."

The original image by Heinrich van den Berg as seen on Getty Images does not show a purple horn as seen in the meme.

The original image by Heinrich van den Berg, saved from Getty Images on March 3, 2020

The same applies to the picture of the elephant -- a reverse image search on TinEye shows the image has been used at least as far back as 2009 (here and here) and the elephant's tusks are not pink.

A screenshot taken on March 3, 2020 of the reverse image search results on TinEye

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by BOOM staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Updated On: 2020-05-30T11:17:02+05:30
Claim Review :   Image shows rhino and elephant with horn and tusk dyed with pink colour, making them unsellable as the dye is toxic only to humans, while being perfectly harmless to the animal.
Claimed By :  Social Media users
Fact Check :  False
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