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DEBUNKED

Africa Check: Pride of lions didn’t kill 5 poachers in Zimbabwe

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The following article was published by our friends at Africa Check, Africa's first independent fact-checking website. Reprinted with their kind permission. 

Researched by Kate Wilkinson - Edited by Anim van Wyk

Wildlife lovers rejoiced when a Facebook post recounting the gruesome death of five poachers went viral. But the story – and the images – are a hoax.

The animal kingdom appears to have taken justice into its own hands in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

“PRIDE OF LIONS KILLED FIVE POACHERS AND INJURED ANOTHER THREE,” Askari Warrior Wildlife Academy told its followers on Facebook.

The post, which has been shared over 4,500 times, claims a pride of lions attacked a group of poachers leaving “many bones and bits of flesh scattered over hundreds of square metres”.

The news was met with glee. A comment left on the post suggested that the poachers’ death certificates should read “Killed by cats”. Another read: “So good to see that the lions are getting their own back on the scum that see fit to kill them!”

Story is a fabrication

The story was originally published on World News Daily Report in June 2016. It is a fabrication and was debunked by Snopes.com earlier this month.

World News Daily Report is an entertainment website. Its disclaimer warns that “all characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle”.

We confirmed with Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park that the incident did not occur there.

“Those claims are unsubstantiated. It is not true,” the park’s spokesman Caroline Washaya Moyo told Africa Check.

Fake images used

The image used to illustrate the original hoax story on World News Daily Report does not show the victim of a lion attack. Rather it appears to be a picture of a man who reportedly grew breasts and approached a prophet for healing.

The picture has been published on Facebook in August 2015.

The first image shows a visibly angry lion staring into the camera. It was actually captured by photographer Atif Saeed at a safari park in Lahore, Pakistan.

The next image of a running man being jumped on by a lion is actually a still from the 1981 film Roar, starring Tippi Hedren, Noel Marshall and Melanie Griffith.

The film is supposedly one of the most dangerous ever made, with 70 members of the cast and crew injured during production. (Don’t fact-check us on that.)

Conclusion: Gruesome lion story and images are a hoax

The gruesome viral story of a pride of lions killing five poachers in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is a hoax.

The story, shared over 4,500 times on Facebook, was debunked by Snopes.com.

Our verdict: the king of the jungle is innocent of all charges.

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