Debunked video resurfaces with false claims about hunters mauled by lions for killing their kin

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Video trophy hunter eaten by lions

A video has been shared widely on social media with claims that it shows trophy hunters posing with a dead lion before they are fatally mauled by the animal’s brothers. However, this is false; the staged video was created by an Australian production company and AFP Fact Check already debunked it more than four years ago. The new claims have also appeared alongside a picture of a dead lion and a trophy hunter, whose purported fate – being eaten alive – was recorded on Instagram Live. This too is false; live streaming on Instagram was only introduced a year after the picture was taken.

“WATCH: Trophy hunter attacked and eaten live by the brothers of another lion he had killed and was posing with for photos while live streaming on Instagram in South African,” reads a tweet published on January 27, 2023.

The video shows a man and a woman posing behind a dead lion. The woman is armed with a rifle. As the man adjusts the camera, a second lion appears and charges towards them as they run out of the frame.

Screams and gunshots are heard in the background before the lion enters the frame again.

At first glance, the video looks real. However, the footage is staged and was debunked by AFP Fact Check in 2018.

The dead lion in the video can be seen in another picture, which AFP Fact Check originally traced back to 2013 using a reverse image search and the internet archive website Wayback Machine. The locations and scenes appear different but it’s the same lion, as seen in the images below.

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Another clue is the cloud, which doesn’t move throughout the video. It is not as obvious in the shorter version reposted this year but is more noticeable in the longer YouTube version, which has been viewed 18 million times since June 2016.

Further analysis of the lion in action shows that the video was digitally altered; the part showing the lion running off camera was actually separately filmed on a blue screen and is available on Getty Images. It was overlayed into the fake video using software to blend the different scenes together.

The scene showing the lion returning back into the frame after the implied attack is also on Getty Images.

The Woolshed Company, an Australian production house, admitted to making the video and other fake viral videos, including one showing a swimmer coming face-to-face with a shark.

The company said in 2016 that it created a series of videos to study what goes viral on the internet.

While this lion scenario is fake, lions have attacked before, as seen in this July 2018 AFP report, when at least three suspected poachers were mauled to death on a game reserve in South Africa.

Same claim, old image

A variation of the claim, using the same text but accompanied by a photo, was shared in this tweet published on January 27, 2023.

The photo shows a trophy hunter posing with a dead lion.

This image also surfaced in South Africa and Kenya.

While the photograph is real, the claim is false.

The image has been online since at least January 2015, according to an archived page from the website of Africa Trophy Hunting, an outfitter that specialises in trophy hunting in Africa.

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This means the picture was online before the launch of Instagram Live in 2016, making the timing of his purported death impossible. We were unable to verify any other details about the man.

AFP Fact Check made several attempts to contact Africa Trophy Hunting and we will update this debunk should they respond.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>