Reports that the world’s oldest tree has been accidentally chopped down by loggers in Peru has sparked panic among conservationists.
Several websites carried the “news” on Wednesday, seemingly without realising the entire story appears to be a hoax.
It first appeared on the World News Daily Report on Saturday – a fake news website carrying articles including “Isis launches satellite” and “Pterodactyl sighting in New Guinea terrorises villagers”.
The “Real or Satire” directory of news outlets describes it following “the old-school Tabloid-styled faux-journalism of its predecessors...you will find disclaimers neither revealing its satirical nature nor reveling in its journalistic integrity”.
Its “about us” section claims: “Our News Team is composed of award winning Christian, Muslim and Jewish journalists, retired Mossad agents and veterans of the Israeli Armed Forces.”
The World News Daily Report claimed that workers were logging deep in the Matsés Indigenous Reserve on the Peruvian and Brazilian border when they felled the ancient specimen.
“The giant Samauma tree that is thought to be over 5,800 years old judging on its concentric rings and estimated to be close to 40 meters in height was a major part of the native tribes cultural landscape,” the report said, quoting a supposed tribe leader.
An interview with a “researcher from the Rainforest Protection Coalition” lent the story credibility, testifying that the reserve is being exploited by energy corporations at the expense of the indigenous people.
While logging in the Matsés Indigenous Reserve is indeed controversial and the Amazon rainforest is shrinking, the Rainforest Protection Coalition does not exist.
Neither, we suspect, does tribal leader "Tahuactep", who is quoted in the story saying: “It is the Mother spirit of the rainforest, from this spirit-tree came the life force of all things living. They have destroyed Aotlcp-Awak, they have brought darkness upon not only our people, but the whole world.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies