The story behind a photo of an impala a split-second from death has been dispelled as totally false by its photographer Alison Buttigieg. She describes how "a highlight of [her] photography career has turned into a nightmare."
You’ve likely seen this photo circulating social media over the past week or so. The story accompanying it was that the impala had sacrificed herself to the cheetahs in order for her offspring to escape. The photo allegedly captures the mother's last glance before being killed. Many of those circulating the story also accompanied it with the fabrication of how the photographer had slumped into depression after taking it. Dramatic, huh?
Writing on Facebook, she called the fake story “sensationalism” in an attempt for media outlets to rack up more views. Buttigieg said:
A highlight of my photography career has turned into a nightmare. The photo with the fake story has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on various social media. What a vile world we live in, full of stupid gullible people spreading #fakenews like crazy.
Turns out the real story is the complete opposite. In actuality, the impala was used by a cheetah mother to teach her cubs how to hunt prey - except the cubs were more interested in playing with the impala instead. Buttigieg attributes the impala’s “calm” demeanor to being frozen in shock. Referencing the “defiance in its eyes,” she concludes, “[It’s] as if [the impala is] determined to stay beautiful and proud until its very end."
The cheetah mother eventually slew the impala herself.