AI-generated image falsely shared as genuine photo of 'Afghan girl with snow leopard she rescued'

An AI-generated image depicting a girl sitting alongside a wild cat against a mountainous backdrop was shared in multiple social media posts in May 2024 with a false claim it showed an Afghan girl with a snow leopard she rescued and raised. The digital creator confirmed with AFP that he made the image with an AI program called Midjourney.

"This amazing Afghan Girl rescued a snow leopard from its infancy. She raised and cared for it until the cub was ready to return to the Pamir Mountains," read the caption of a Thai Facebook post published on May 14, 2024.

The text continues: "Today, the majestic snow leopard frequently visits her, spending many hours with her. This bond between the girl and animal is touching and shows that kindness and compassion can go beyond limits."

The image shows a girl sitting next to a snow leopard with snowy mountain seen in the background.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on May 17, 2024

The same image has also been shared alongside a similar claim in Thai herehere and here, in Urdu here and in English here and here.

Some users' comments showed that they believed that the photo is genuine.

"This unique and wonderful photo deserves an international attention and an award," one comment read.

"Kindness conquers boundaries!" another Facebook user wrote.

However, the image was generated with the use of AI.

AI-generated image

A reverse image search on Google found the image was published as early as March 24, 2024 on the Instagram account of a user called @babrakk (archived link).

The image contained a watermark of "Midjourney" at the top right, indicating the image was created with the use of artificial intelligence.

"Shirin & her fierce companion. Making a great duo," the caption read.

Screenshot of the Instagram post with element highlighted by AFP

Babrak Khan, the owner of the account, confirmed to AFP on May 16, 2024, that he made the image using Midjourney, a generative AI program that creates images based on text prompts.

"Yup, created this with Midjourney," he told AFP.

"Using AI, I transform my wildest imaginations into digital realities," Khan wrote in a message to AFP, adding that his artwork aims to illustrate a harmonious coexistence between humans and animals.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and the original Instagram post (right):

Screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and @babrakk's Instagram post (right)

AFP has previously debunked false posts sharing AI-generated images such as herehere and here.

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