Is This Photo Of Spotted Deer From Nuwara Eliya?

False Wildlife

Nuwara Eliya is one of Sri Lanka’s most loved holiday destinations. Located in the hill country, its cool climate was sought after even during colonial times. Among the locale’s wildlife attractions are many bird and mammal species endemic to Sri-Lanka, including wild boar, sambar and barking deer.

In this context we noticed a viral Facebook post published on 13th April 2020 with a photograph of several spotted deer and claiming to have been captured in Nuwara Eliya town. The photo, posted by FB user Suranga Galagamage has nearly 3000 shares to date and can be seen below:


Considering the viral nature of the post and its high engagements, we decided to run a fact check to verify its authenticity as we had done several fact checks claiming to be recent spotting of deer in Sri Lanka, which in fact turned out to be either old or unrelated incidents to COVID19 curfew period which prevailing in the country. Link 1, Link 2, Link 3 & Link 4


We began by looking at the comments in the viral post itself and several claimed that the image was fake. Others had mentioned that the image was taken in Nara, Japan. A small section of the comments can be seen below:

We next ran a Google Reverse Image Search which revealed several posts with Japanese text under the title “奈良 の 鹿 だまり” which means “Nara’s Deer Pool”. Several similar images had also been posted referencing the location as Nara in Japan as can be seen below:

A further search indicated that the images were posted on Twitter by a page named Japan Vibe in July 2019 as part of a series of three images shot in Nara, Japan with the accompanying text “Deer gathering on 16 July in Nara”. The post can be seen below:


A comparison of the original viral image and the second photograph in the Twitter post can be seen below and indicates that it is the very same image based on the deer seated in the foreground as well as the people in the background of the photograph:

Finally we also felt it necessary to have a look at the deer population in the Nuwara Eliya town and surroundings. Our Google Search for ‘Spotted Deer’ and ‘Nuwara Elya’ indicated that Spotted Deer were located in other parts of the country but not in the Nuwara Eliya locale.

A further overall search for deer subspecies in Sri Lanka led us to a detailed article in Amazing Lanka which indicated that the deer dwelling in the hill country were sambar and that spotted deer could be seen anywhere on the island except for the hill country. This further proves that there are no Spotted/Axis Deer in Nuwara Eliya town. 

Image of flock of deer sitting on a roadside in Nara, Japan was attributed to different towns in Sri Lanka in early April as well and this is our fact check.


Based on our evidence the viral photograph was captured in Nara, Japan hence declare the viral post entirely false.


Title: Is This Photo Of Spotted Deer From Nuwara Eliya?

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: False

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