June 12, 2020

Fact Check: Last Rite’s of Kerala’s Pregnant Elephant


A nearly five-year-old image from Karnataka showing a burial ceremony for an elephant is being passed off as the last rites of the pregnant elephant whose tragic death in Kerala’s Palakkad district made national headlines.

The viral image shows three monks dressed in saffron robes performing rituals as the elephant’s body lies in a pit. Onlookers surrounding the pit watch the ceremony from above. The left leg of the elephant has the word ‘Taralabalu’ in Kannada written over it.

In a tragic incident this year, a pregnant elephant was grievously injured in Kerala’s Palakkad district after she accidentally ate a coconut stuffed with explosives. The fruit was kept as a snare meant to scare off wild boars from local banana and pineapple plantations. She died of lung failure and malnourishment on May 27, 2020, after standing in a river for several hours to alleviate the pain. Also Read Kerala Elephant Murder: Everything You Need to Know!

The pregnant elephant’s death created a furor on social media which was followed by a wave of misinformation. A Hindi caption with the viral photo reads ‘Rest in peace. Picture of the pregnant elephant’s last farewell. Tributes. #Kerela (Sic)’. (Hindi: Rest in Peace. गर्भवती हथनी की अंतिम विदाई की तस्वीर.. श्रधांजलि. #Kerela)

Link to Post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=164095918485971&set=a.102485397980357&type=3


A reverse image search of the image yielded no results. Taking a cue from the word Tarlabalu written in Kannada over the elephant’s left leg, a keyword search on Facebook with the word Taralabalu it was found that a post on the Facebook page Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath from November 12, 2015, which shared the same image.

The picture of the elephant has been shared with a Kannada caption which translates to ‘The elephant Gowri of Taralabalu mutt is no more’. The caption suggests that the name of the elephant was Gowri/Gauri.

Link to Post: https://www.facebook.com/239495379428687/photos/a.529762837068605/1069745376403679/?type=3

Another Facebook post shared from Taralabalu Infotainment on June 9, 2017 shares the same image with a long caption in Kannada. This post also refers to the elephant as Gauri from the Taralabalu Jagadguru Mutt, Sirigere.


Therefore it’s evident that a photo from 2015 is being peddled as last rites of Kerala’s Pregnant Elephant.

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