Lion hunt photos deleted from Australian’s Facebook page

A wildlife photographer who uploaded shots of a starving lion pride feasting on a dead buffalo was left shocked after the images were deleted. 

Bobby-Jo Vial, 35, from Dubbo, New South Wales, was at the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in South Africa when she captured the grisly scene last week.

Ms Vial uploaded the images to her Facebook business page on Wednesday, only to return later the same day and find the entire page had been shut down. 

Bobby-Jo Vial, 35, from Dubbo, New South Wales, was following a pride of starving lions in South Africa when she found them enjoying a buffalo kill

Bobby-Jo Vial, 35, from Dubbo, New South Wales, was following a pride of starving lions in South Africa when she found them enjoying a buffalo kill

Bobby-Jo Vial, 35, from Dubbo, New South Wales, was following a pride of starving lions in South Africa when she found them enjoying a buffalo kill

Vial managed to capture this shot showing how one of the cubs crawled into the carcass and began devouring it from the inside out

Vial managed to capture this shot showing how one of the cubs crawled into the carcass and began devouring it from the inside out

Vial managed to capture this shot showing how one of the cubs crawled into the carcass and began devouring it from the inside out

She had been locked out of the page and was told by an automated message that her images ‘breached community standards’ by glorifying violence.

Bobby-Jo, who is the co-founder of Duma Safaris and currently lives in South Africa, said: ‘I was excited to share the images of my photography so that my family, friends and followers could see the wonderful news that the pride had caught some food.

‘I felt that I had captured a very raw wildlife moment. The images proved popular straight away. 

‘People were blown away about the little cub inside the buffalo and all the comments were extremely positive.

‘It felt wonderful to share this unique moment with so many people, people that might never get the chance to experience wild lions of travel to Africa.

‘A few hours later I tried to access my Facebook account but I had been locked out. I received a notice to say that I had breached Facebook community standards by posting graphic and violent images.’

Vial posted the images to her Facebook business page but came back later to find they had been deleted and the page locked for 'glorifying violence'

Vial posted the images to her Facebook business page but came back later to find they had been deleted and the page locked for 'glorifying violence'

Vial posted the images to her Facebook business page but came back later to find they had been deleted and the page locked for ‘glorifying violence’

Bobby-Jo said Facebook also threatened to take down her business page if she continued to post images of this nature.

She said: ‘There was no option to appeal, just a little box I had to tick to acknowledge the message. All of my photos were deleted, all the comments gone.

‘I had also shared one of the images on my private Facebook profile, whilst they did not delete this, they did cover it with a graphic warning content message.

‘I sent several messages to the Facebook support team to ask them why my pictures violated their community terms but they did not acknowledge my request.’

Facebook did eventually restore the images and apologised for taking them down, but insisted they be covered by a ‘graphic gore’ warning.  

Bobby-Jo said the censorship of her images was very upsetting and could have wider implications for showing nature as it is, and the problems wildlife might face.

She said: ‘I was absolutely devastated, capturing the truth of nature as a wildlife photographer is my job. Once again nature loses out.

‘I immediately posted about this to my family and friends, they couldn’t believe it.

‘Would two lions pictured mating be deemed as sexual content?’

Bobby-Jo has been following the Avoca pride for the past four years and can identify most of the members of this 17-strong big cat family.

She said: ‘They are wild animals but I feel quite attached to them so recently when I returned back to Timbavati, I noticed that the mothers and their cubs were looking weak and thin.

‘There are five cubs that are around 12 months of age which is a crucial development time.

Vial said she wants to represent nature at its most raw and fought back against the social media site for attempting to censor her (pictured, lions from the same pride)

Vial said she wants to represent nature at its most raw and fought back against the social media site for attempting to censor her (pictured, lions from the same pride)

Vial said she wants to represent nature at its most raw and fought back against the social media site for attempting to censor her (pictured, lions from the same pride)

Facebook did eventually restore the images and send Vial an apology, but they have been covered by a 'graphic gore' warning

Facebook did eventually restore the images and send Vial an apology, but they have been covered by a 'graphic gore' warning

Facebook did eventually restore the images and send Vial an apology, but they have been covered by a ‘graphic gore’ warning

‘I was very concerned for their wellbeing, but as always nature surprises us, and the next morning we found them with a buffalo carcass.’

For the photographs of the pride eating the buffalo Bobby-Jo used a Canon 1DX MKII and she was around 10 metres from the action.

She said: ‘I noticed that one cub in particular was very possessive of the buffalo and he started to climb inside the carcass from the stomach area.

‘The adult lions had eaten the backside of the buffalo first and I knew this could be a unique photo opportunity.

‘We positioned our vehicle so that I could capture the cubs face through the carcass. At first all I could see was a pair of little yellow eyes staring back at me and I pressed the shutter with excitement.’

Bobby-Jo said another reason sharing wildlife images was so important for lions across Africa was that the feline was facing a silent extinction from poaching, snaring and habitat loss with had seen numbers plummet in 100 years from 200,000 to around 20,000.

An organisation hoping to stem the tide of lion destruction is the charity Kope Lion, a conservation initiative.

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