Social Media Claim

Photo of soldier and jaguar not related to Amazon fires

A Facebook post from August 25, 2019 shows a soldier hugging a jaguar in the water.

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post by an Australian user from August 25, 2019 which shows a photograph of a soldier who is wearing a camouflage uniform with a Brazilian flag at the shoulder and is hugging a jaguar in the water.

A caption above the photo reads: “No words. Rescue Photo of one of the animals that threw themselves into the water trying to save themselves from the Amazon fire”.

The post had been shared more than 120 times and attracted more than 15 comments and 80 reactions.

Smoke rising from fires in the Amazon rainforest, in the Brazilian state of Para on August 23, 2019.

The Analysis

AAP FactCheck traced the photo of the Brazilian soldier and the jaguar to Brazilian photographer, None Manguiera, who first posted the image to her Facebook page in March 2016.

In a photo series posted to her Facebook album titled, “Jiquitaia”, None Mangueira explained the jaguar’s name was Jiquitaia from the Amazon jungle, and it was “found abandoned from the parents during an army military operation in the municipality of Tefé-am”, according to a translated version of the caption.

In another photo of the same male soldier and Jiquitaia, the caption refers to the jaguar as “Jiquiataia” and the soldier as “Amazon Military Command”.

The Brazilian army, also known as the Jaguars, has a division which looks after the Amazon region called the Amazon Military Command. The Amazon Military Command was formed in October 1956 as a measure to deal with “border protection ... and ... the problem of repression of smuggling”.

In June 2016, None Mangueira posted another photo of the same male soldier and jaguar with the caption translated from Portugese reading, “Abuse of image. This is Jiquitaia, not Juma. They entered my face(book), used my photos of a beautiful preservation project, with inappropriate and biased subtitles without the knowledge of cause. Here's an alert for us photographers about the bad faith of third parties. Protect your projects, protect your images!

Help me spread the truth!”

“Juma” referred to in the post was another jaguar that was shot dead after it escaped its handlers during the Olympic torch relay in Brazil ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Massive fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest for weeks, during the season of the “queimada”, or burn, in which 2500 new fires were lit in 48 hours.

The fires were thought to have peaked after August 10, 2019, when farmers reportedly set a large area of the forest on fire to show Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro their willingness to work and increase areas for pasture, according to a translated page on the Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) in Pará.

The MPF is tasked with “defending social and individual rights, defending legal order and defending Brazil’s democratic regime”.

The MPF quoted one of the organisers of the burn who told the newspaper Folha do Progresso, “we need to show the president that we want to work and the only way is to knock it down. And to form and clean our pastures, it is with fire”.

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post to be false. The photo of the soldier and jaguar were taken by Brazilian photographer, None Mangueira, during a preservation project in 2016 and is unrelated to the Amazon fires which occurred in 2019.

  • False - The Facebook post is false.

First published August 29, 2019 17:41 AEST