Video purportedly showing elephant stopping trucks in Cambodia is actually from Thailand

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A video of an elephant stopping trucks on a road in Thailand has been misleadingly shared in Facebook and Twitter posts about Cambodia. AFP tracked down the original footage from a YouTube user who said the clip was filmed in Chachoengsao province, east of Bangkok. A road sign seen in the video and the fact the vehicles are driving on the left side of the road also show the encounter took place in Thailand.

"Elephants in Cambodia have learned to exploit their right of way and stop passing sugar cane trucks to steal a snack. 0.5% road tax being collected by these intelligent beings," reads the misleading claim shared on Twitter on March 6.

It was accompanied by a one-minute and 42-second video containing three scenes of an elephant stopping traffic on a road.

A screenshot of the misleading Twitter post captured on March 13

Elephants in Cambodia, estimated to number between 400 and 600 dispersed throughout the country, are a threatened species due primarily to habitat loss resulting from human development.

The Southeast Asian country joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1997 in an effort to protect the creatures.

The same video has been shared alongside the same claim on Twitter here and here, and on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the clip is from Thailand, not Cambodia.

A reverse image search on Google found a longer version of the video posted here by a YouTube channel labelled "Thai Elephant Documentary Channel" on December 27, 2022.

The first clip in the misleading video can be seen in the YouTube footage at the four-minute and 48-second mark; the second scene is shown at two minutes and 40 seconds; while the third clip appears at the six-minute and 11-second mark.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (left) and the video posted on YouTube (right):

A screenshot comparison of the video seen in the false posts (left) and the video posted on YouTube (right)

Chujit Sukkasem, the owner of the YouTube channel, told AFP that the video was shot in December 2022 on the 3259 road passing through the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, a 1,000-square-kilometre forested area east of Bangkok in Chachoengsao province.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the road sign in the video (left) and a sign seen on Google Maps along the 3259 road (right).

A screenshot comparison between the road sign in the misleading video (left) and a sign seen on Google Maps along the 3259 road in Thailand's Chachoengsao province (right)

The sign reads: "CAUTION ELEPHANT CROSSING" in English and "Beware of wild elephants, wildlife crossing" in Thai.

In the clip, the vehicles are driving on the left side of the road, as is the case in Thailand. Motorists in Cambodia drive on the right side.

News coverage of the elephant encounter began circulating in March on several websites including here and here, which also reported that the incident occurred in Thailand.

There are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 elephants in Thailand, according to Elephant Nature Park, a rescue and rehabilitation centre. About half of them are captive, with the remainder inhabiting national parks. In Bangkok, approximately 300 live in abject conditions.