Is This Image of a Monkey Wearing a Surgical Mask From Karura Forest?

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A tweet published on April 1, 2021 contains an image and text indicating that a monkey that appears to be wearing a surgical mask was spotted at Karura Forest.

Background

Karura Forest is one of Kenya’s most visited eco-tourism destinations, known for its diverse range of trees, in addition to beholding the site of a waterfall and river streams. The span of the forest is 1,041.3 Hectares according to a report by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

Karura Forest’s close proximity to Nairobi City has made it a desirable destination for thousands of Nairobian, Kenyan and international tourists. The KFS report indicates that Karura is the third most visited tourist attraction site in Nairobi, attracting 16,000 hosts a month. Information on a report by the Friends of Karura association further cites that the forest is visited by 200,000 people annually. Karura is also of sentimental value due to its role as one of the Mau Mau freedom fighters’ hideout spots in pre-colonial Kenya, as well as for its significance in the legend of Wangari Maathai. It was at Karura Forest where the Nobel Prize winner and other forest fighters were attacked while demonstrating against a move to use some of the forest land to establish luxury homes.

Nonetheless, the forest has left its doors open to visitors even during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a safe haven for joggers, bikers, walkers and idlers alike.

Verification

The image showing a monkey wearing a surgical mask was initially published on the Friends of Karura Facebook and Twitter accounts on April 1, 2021.

An Error Level Analysis of the image through Fotoforensics also shows that the image’s error levels are consistent, indicating that it is not photoshopped.

Screenshot from the Fotoforensics error analysis.

 

The Friends of Karura Forest Association is a bona fide organization established under the 2005 Forests Act, where the government of Kenya created room for Community Forest Associations, which in partnership with KFS, are charged with activities that involve conserving forests in different communities. The organization routinely shares images of activities going on at Karura Forest via its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

A Google reverse search of the monkey’s photo does not show results of the image being published before April 1 on alternative media reports or websites claiming that the image is from a different location.

Verdict

Posts containing an image of a monkey wearing a surgical mask and text stating that this happened in Kenya are TRUE.

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Linda Ngari