Was an elephant in Ivory Coast really fatally hit by a bus?
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Numerous posts circulating on social media sites in Ivory Coast allege that a passenger bus fatally struck an elephant on a road near the capital of Yamoussoukro on June 13, leaving several people dead. The claims are accompanied by photos of an elephant lying on the road and a bus whose entire front has been crushed in.
"A passenger bus hit an elephant on the Dimbokro-Toumodi road. Several people were killed, and so was the elephant,” reads the original Facebook post. The post claimed that eight people had died, while others said there were as many as 15 casualties.
But the accident never took place. The photos, while real, were in fact taken in another country.
The original post claiming that an elephant was fatally hit by a bus on the Dimbokro-Toumodi road. The France 24 Observers has archived the post.
Why the claims are false
We first ran the photos in the post through a reverse image search. The results included news articles published by Ugandan media sites in early June, before the posts appeared on Ivorian social media sites. The articles stated that a bus hit an elephant on June 5 in northern Uganda. Some locals also posted photos of the accident on Twitter.
An article from SoftPower News reporting that the incident took place in the Nwoya district in Uganda.
To find the original bus photo, we did a keyword search on Facebook. We typed "bus” and “elephant" into the search bar and filtered the results by posts from 2019, and found the photo, posted on June 6.
The name of the Ugandan bus company Gaagaa is partially visible on the windscreen on the crushed bus. It's an indication that the photo was taken and used in social media posts in Ivory Coast.
A June 7 post from a social media user in Uganda.
One Facebook post attributed the photos of the Ugandan accident to a user named Bdong Brian. According to his profile, Bdong Brian lives in Uganda, but we weren’t able to find the photos on his page. We have contacted him and will update the article if he responds to us.
It can be concluded that the accident did not take place in Ivory Coast on June 13. Ugandan media reported that the elephant died and eight bus passengers were taken to the hospital for injuries.
Ivory Coast's water and forests ministry also refuted the social media claims, saying in a statement on June 13 that the accident did not take place in the country and that the online rumours were fake. It was a sign of the number of people that the posts had reached.
"There was no accident on the Dimbokro-Toumodi road that killed 15 people as well as an elephant," Ivory Coast's water and forests ministry said in a statement.