Video of cheetahs in South Africa shared as 'leopards sleeping alongside Indian priest'

By: Chandan Borgohain
April 17 2024

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Video of cheetahs in South Africa shared as 'leopards sleeping alongside Indian priest'

Screenshots of social media posts falsely sharing a cheetah video from South Africa as leopards sleeping alongside a priest in a temple from Rajasthan. (Source: X/Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The original video, dating back to 2019, depicts a conservation worker in Bloemfontein, South Africa, sleeping alongside three cheetahs.

Claim ID d1afe13d

What is the claim?

A video widely shared on social media shows three cheetahs cuddling with a man sleeping, wrapped in a blanket, in a dimly lit enclosure. The video is claimed to be from the Pipaleshvar Mahadev temple in Sirohi in Rajasthan, a northern state in India.

The video was shared on X (archived here) on April 9, with a user writing, "It is said that in the village of Sirohi in Rajasthan, there is a temple of Pipleshwar Mahadev where a family of leopards sleeps near the priest at night. Upon learning about this, the Government Wildlife Department installed CCTV cameras there. Witness this beautiful scene for yourself (translated from Hindi)." An archived version of another similar post can be accessed here.

Asom Report 24, an Assamese news outlet, also shared the viral video on Facebook with the same claim. The video, posted on April 8, 2024, has garnered over 18,000 reactions and 1,500 shares as of the time of writing.

Screenshots of social media posts featuring the viral video. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot)

However, this video actually originates from a cheetah breeding center in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

What did we find?

A reverse image search on one of the keyframes led us to a post by IFS officer Praveen Kaswan on June 10, 2020, which included the same video. In his X post, Kaswan attributed the video to Dolph C Volker and wrote, “So what does a #cheetah prefer? Hard concrete or warm cloth. This one from an enclosure. All looks loveable, though. VC Dolph C Volker (sic).” 

Using this as a lead, we conducted a keyword search and found a longer version of the video uploaded on YouTube by Dolph C Volker on January 21, 2019. According to the video's description, it was filmed at a cheetah breeding center called Cheetah Experience in South Africa, where Volker was given special permission to spend a few nights with the wild cats. "I was granted special permission to spend my nights with the three because I had watched them grow up and built a relationship with them during past volunteering," he wrote.

In his YouTube bio, Volker identifies himself as a passionate animal advocate with a degree in Zoology. He shared the same video on X and Facebook, where he is known as 'The Cheetah Whisperer.'

According to its website, the Cheetah Experience breeding center was initially located in Bloemfontein, South Africa, but in March 2021, it moved to Bela Bela in Limpopo, South Africa. The center is home to several endangered and threatened species, including cheetahs, leopards, non-breeding male lions, servals, caracals, African wildcats, wolves, meerkats, and a Siberian tiger.

Furthermore, one of the cheetahs, referred to as 'Juno' around the 3:40 mark in Volker's YouTube video, is also listed on the Cheetah Experience website as 'one of the younger cheetahs at Cheetah Experience.'

Logically Facts has contacted the Cheetah Experience for a comment. We will update this story if and when we receive a response.

The verdict

The viral video, dating back to January 2019, is from a cheetah breeding center in South Africa. Social media users have incorrectly attributed the video to a temple in Rajasthan, India. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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English , অসমীয়া

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