AI-generated image of elephant fools Sri Lankan Facebook users

A photo editing enthusiast confirmed to AFP he created an image of an elephant climbing a tree with artificial intelligence after it was falsely presented as a real photo taken during a night safari at Sri Lanka's Yala National Park. A spokeswoman for the country's wildlife conservation department also said the park did not offer night-time safaris.

"Not everyone gets chances like this, if someone wants to see this they need to go 'Yala Night Safari'," read a Sinhala-language Facebook post from March 25, 2024. 

"Thank you Suresh brother for giving me this opportunity."

Screengrab of the false post.

The image racked up more than 1,500 shares in similar Facebook posts here and here.

While some Facebook users pointed out the image was "fake", many appeared to believe it showed a real photo.

"How will it climb down?" one commented.

"I think the elephant is already dead and was dragged up the tree by a leopard," another wrote.

AI-generated image

Keyword searches on Facebook found the image was originally posted in "Lightroom Editing", a group for photo editing enthusiasts with more than 290,000 members.

Janaka Senevirathne, one of the group's administrators, published the image on March 25, 2024 (archived link).

Screenshot of the image posted in the "Lightroom Editing" Facebook group, taken on May 7, 2024

Senevirathne confirmed to AFP that he made the image using artificial intelligence.

He described himself as a digital creator and regularly posted AI-generated content in the group.

Furthermore, visual clues in the image suggest it was AI-generated. The jeep's windscreen and number plate were blurry, while text in the bottom-right corner reading "Yala National Park" was misspelt.

Screengrab of the picture with visual inconsistencies highlighted by AFP.

Visual inconsistencies are one of the main giveaways that an image is fabricated, according to AFP's guide to spotting AI-generated images.

Hasini Sarathchandra, a spokeswoman for Sri Lanka's wildlife conservation department -- which oversees national parks including Yala National Park -- has also told AFP the park did not allow night-time safaris, as the false post suggested. 

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