Several Facebook and Twitter users from India have shared an image of deers sitting on the streets. The image has gone viral with the claim that “Ooty-Coimbatore road is reclaimed by its original owners.” It is being asserted that the deers sat on the road as the lockdown imposed to battle coronavirus pandemic has restricted human movement.
Journalist and Padma Shri recipient Mrinal Pande also tweeted (archive link) the viral image. Pande’s tweet was retweeted over 1900 times and liked over 11,000 times. Similarly, IPS HGS Dhaliwal (archive link) also posted the viral image.
Alt News performed a reverse image search on Google and found that the viral image was published by Japan Today and SoraNews24 in 2014. According to the reports, the image is from Nara Park in Japan. The park is a popular tourist spot and is known for its deer population. Moreover, a Japanese signboard is visible in the picture, hinting that it cannot be from India.
The reason why so many deers turned up at Nara Park was explained by the Nara City Tourism Association (NCTA). “Nara Park covers a broad area, and in fact, a portion of it is made of by the grounds of Kasuga Taisha Shrine. The deity enshrined therein is Takemi Kajichi no Mikoto, said to have ridden to Nara upon a sacred deer from Kashima Shrine (also written with a character for “deer”) in Ibaraki Prefecture. Because of this legend, deer were thought of as sacred animals–the helpers of gods–and have been carefully protected for many years. Even today, Nara’s deer are carefully protected as “natural monuments.”
There are several videos available about Nara Park on YouTube.
Thus, the social media claim about the viral image is false and misleading. On March 20, National Geographic debunked similar claims of elephants overdosed on corn wine in the Chinese province Yunan and dolphins spotted in Venice.