Tohidul Islam Raso

Research Officer, Dismislab
Herd of hippos in mud: Ugandan video mistaken for Satkhira

Herd of hippos in mud: Ugandan video mistaken for Satkhira

Tohidul Islam Raso

Research Officer, Dismislab

A video has recently been circulating on Facebook, claiming a herd of hippos indulging in a mud bath in a canal in Satkhira. The accompanying post alleges that the hippos are experiencing significant distress as the Sayer canal dries up during the summer days. However, upon verification, it becomes apparent that the video does not originate from the Sayer canal in Satkhira or any other region of Bangladesh. Instead, the original footage hails from Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

A Facebook page published the video on April 29. The 11-second video has also been shared from various personal profiles (1,2,3) and pages (1,2,3,4) all claiming the video depicts a canal in Satkhira. In the video, there is a wide area that resembles a field, with a group of hippos seen moving about, their snouts immersed in the mud within the nearly dried-up water of the canal.

A video shared from a personal Facebook profile has garnered considerable attention from users. The caption of the post reads: ‘What’s in Satkhira’s Sayer Canal. Please let me know if you know anything about this.’ 

As of the time of writing this report, over 2.8 million users had viewed the video. It has been shared more than 450 times, with over 10,000 users reacting and over 1,000 commenting. Meanwhile, some users have expressed doubts about the video’s actual location in the comment section. One user wrote, ‘If it is Satkhira, then it will be a cow or a buffalo.’ Another commented, ‘It is from a safari park in another country.’ ‘I see Sayer canal is free of occupation, where have all the occupied shops and fish markets gone,’ writes another user.”

After conducting a reverse image search, Dismislab uncovered the original video on a video trading platform known as Newsflare. The initial 11 seconds of the 18-second clip were cut out and disseminated on Facebook, falsely labeled as being from Satkhira, Bangladesh.

According to the description of the video on the Newsflare site, on November 3, 2022, a woman named Krishna Sookrit captured the moment on camera while visiting Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The 61-year-old Sookrit said, ‘Initially, I screamed when I saw the earth move. It took a few seconds for me to realize that these were hippos. At least 25 hippos were happily bathing in the mud”, she added.

What does the actual Sayer canal look like?

News articles (1,2,3,4,5) about the Sayer canal in Satkhira have been published on multiple occasions, indicating that the canal has become a pollution hotspot due to neglect and unauthorized occupation. Attempts have been made at different intervals to improve the canal, but they have proven unsuccessful.

It has been found that the real name of the reservoir is the Pransayer canal. According to a news report of the daily Prothom Alo, around 1850, the Zamindar of Satkhira, Prananath Roy Chowdhury, dug the canal to facilitate trade and commerce along the river and to increase the beauty of the city. Later, it came to be known as the ‘Pransayer canal’ after him.

The Pransayer canal flows through the heart of Satkhira city. Its existence is now in crisis due to plastic garbage and encroachment. Therefore, there is no visual similarity between the Pransayer canal and the canal depicted in the vast wilderness in the video spread on Facebook.