Old video of hippos bathing in mud not filmed in Bangladesh

An old video of hippos in a muddy creek was repeatedly shared in posts that falsely claimed it was filmed in a dried-up waterway in southwestern Bangladesh following a suffocating heatwave in April 2024. The video has circulated online since November 2022 in posts about a national park in Uganda.

"What's this thing showed up after the canal of Saer in Satkhira dried up," read a Bengali-language Facebook post on April 29, 2024, referring to a canal in the densely populated Satkhira city in southwestern Bangladesh.

The post included a video that appeared to show hippos wallowing in mud.

It circulated as Bangladesh was gripped by a heatwave that officials said killed at least seven people and forced authorities to close schools nationwide.

The average temperatures in the country in April were the hottest since it began keeping weather records in 1948.

Extensive scientific research has found climate change is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.

Screenshot of the false post taken June 5, 2024

The video was also shared alongside a similar claim elsewhere on Facebook here and here.

The video, however, is unrelated to the heatwave in Bangladesh.

Uganda national park

Google reverse image searches using the video's keyframes found it was earlier shared in high resolution on Facebook on November 23, 2022 by a Uganda-based tour agency called Wildfriends Africa (archived link).

"Hippos cram themselves into a single muddy waterhole in a rush to cool off their hairless bodies under the scorching African sun," read part of the post's caption.

It added the video was filmed at the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false posts (left) and the clip from 2022 (right):

A screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and the 2022 video (right)

Joseph Abayo, managing director of Wildfriends Africa, told AFP on May 20: "The video was actually taken in 2022 by me and we have more of such videos encountered in the same spot."

The Wildfriends Africa Facebook page also published a similar video taken from the same location on November 23, 2022 (archived link).

Abayo added: "Those claiming it's from Bangladesh just want to paint an image of their country's tourism brand."

The video was also published by video agency Newsflare in an article about Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park (archived link). 

Misrepresented location

The video shared in the false Facebook posts shows a muddy wasteland, by contrast with the Pran Saer Canal which flows through Satkhira, a heavily populated town in southwestern Bangladesh.

Satkhira also has no documented hippo population.

AFP checked images of the Pran Saer Canal on Google Maps and found it did not match the video shared in false posts.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in a false context online (left) and a photo tagged on Google Street View of the Pran Saer Canal (right):


AFP has debunked other misinformation about the heatwave in Bangladesh here.

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