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Fact Check: Viral picture of a cow and leopard is not from Assam during the lockdown period

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An old picture of a cow and leopard from Gujarat is being shared on social media with several false and unsubstantiated claims.

Some social media users have been sharing an image of a cow and leopard along with a story about their unique yet strange relationship where both the animals interact without harming each other. However, this story has been shared in a way that makes it seem as though it happened recently during the lockdown period in Assam.

The picture along with the story behind the unique relationship between a cow and a leopard was shared by Arif Aajakia on June 14.

The tweet received more than 500 retweets and 2100 likes.

Fact Check

When we conducted a reverse image search, we found that several aspects of this narrative are false. We found an article from April 2014 which analyses the series of interactions between the two animals in detail. The first article to report this incident is from TOI dating to October 25, 2002. Thus the way the Twitter user reported this incident as something which happened recently by not pointing out that it had happened several years ago is misleading.

Moreover, reading the articles, one can find out that this incident did not take place in Assam as some people have claimed, but in Antoli village in the Vadodara district in Gujarat.

In the image shared by the Twitter user, it has been mentioned that a person had bought the cow from another village and kept it in their shed. Claims have also been made that the mother of the leopard was killed when it was a cub and the cow had fed the cub with milk and thus they possess this unique relationship which was apparently narrated by the previous owner. But no such narrative has been given in earlier articles that report this incident. 

The article reports, “A family belonging to backward caste lived in the fringe of habitation with a cow, a buffalo calf and two bullocks”, therefore the narrative that the cow was bought from another village is added on. Moreover, the narrative about the cow feeding the leopard when it was a cub has not been mentioned in the earlier articles, thus, it can also be considered as an add-on aspect as no sources confirm this. The articles do not talk about these narratives, whereas, it just analyses how such a unique relationship has been developed by the animals to each other and some professionals have shared their perspectives on the behaviour of both these animals with each other. 

In conclusion, the incident involving the unique interactions of the cow and leopard happened several years ago in a village in Gujarat and not in Assam. Not verifying information and spreading false news might have its impact, for instance, some might fear the entering of leopards into residential areas. This is not the first time that such misinformation related to animals has been spread on social media, recently, the claim that a pineapple filled with crackers was fed to an elephant enraged several people but turned out that it was not intentionally fed, but the elephant had consumed it by accident. This incident which was sensationalized lead to the development of other false claims which we debunked earlier.

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