Were sloth bears spotted in Sri Lanka amidst the COVID-19 lockdown?

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A viral video is being circulated with captions stating that the video was captured in Sri Lanka during the curfew implementation due to Coronavirus. a few screenshots of the video are as follows and the entire video can be viewed here:

Twitter

The video was published on Twitter on May 11, 2020 in the following profile and has  since then garnered 2.7K views.

 

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Bandarwela is a town in Sri Lanka.

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A Facebook profile has also shared the video from Twitter:

Truth

A simple Google Reverse Image search of keyframes extracted from InVID-WeVerify led to a video that was published on YouTube by Gypsy Tiger. The video was posted in November, 2019. According to the their page, Gypsy Tiger is a page dedicated to online wildlife media ventures that focuses on documenting timeless tales of nature from across various wildlife destinations around the world

The caption of the video read: “Have you ever woken up to such an amazing surprise? A mama sloth bear and her cubs in your lawn! Sloth bears are shy animals and it’s tough to see them in the wild. But Akshay Gaur, who lives near Hallakarai village in Coonoor is very lucky because these bears have decided to pay him a frequent visit “.

Coonoor is a Taluk in the Nilgiris district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The video was shot by Akshay Gaur, according to the credits given in the caption.

The full video can be viewed here and screenshots the YouTube video are compared to that of the viral video below:

A spokesperson of Gypsy Tiger, the YouTube channel that published the video said that Akshay Gaur who shot the video was a resident of Coonoor. AFP got in touch with the channel authorities and they were reported to state the following: “He (Akshay Gaur) shared it with us and we uploaded on our Facebook and YouTube channels…This is not in Sri Lanka, this was at his house in Coonoor and shot before Covid-19 was known to the world.”

According to AFP, Pubudy Weerarathne who is a Sri Lankan wildlife activist and a member of the Sri Lanka Young Zoologists’ Association stated that it was “highly unlikely” that slothe bears would have been spotted in Bandarawela as their habitats are mainly in the dry zones within the country. “It is very rare that they would be found in the intermediate zone and highly unlikely they would be seen in an area like Bandarawela located in Sri Lanka’s hill country that is the wet zone,” he told AFP by phone on May 13, 2020.

 

 

 


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Sai Keerthi

A spark of curiosity that buzzes around. Authoring your next coffee table book. Journalist.