A video of a giant snake captured by a crane is widely circulating online. Facebook news page KohramLive, with about one lakh followers, posted the video with the caption, “OMG! Had to bring a JCB to capture such a huge snake…” [इतना बड़ा सांप, उठाने के लिए लगाना पड़ा JCB…] on October 17. The video gained over two million views.
The video was also shared by News18 Virals on YouTube on the same day with the claim that it is from Jharkhand’s Dhanbad region. Since then, it has pulled close to three lakh views.
News18 has, in fact, shared the video on all its Facebook pages – News18 India, News18 Haryana, News18 Jharkhand, News18 Himachal, News18 Hindi, News18 Madhya Pradesh, News18 Rajasthan, News18 Bihar and News18 Uttar Pradesh. Other media outlets that posted this video with the same claim were NDTV, Zee News, TV9 Bangla, Live Hindustan, OdiaKhabar24.
Andhra Pradesh MP for YSR Congress Party Parimal Nathwani posted this video with the same claim.
Massive! It took a crane to shift this #python weighing 100 kg and measuring 6.1 m length, in Dhanbad, Jharkhand. #nature #wildlife #snakes #forests #India @wwfindia @natgeoindia pic.twitter.com/nZMNUtLkbv
— Parimal Nathwani (@mpparimal) October 18, 2021
On October 12, Ecuador-based Facebook page Amazonía Informa also uploaded the video but without offering context. A Facebook user claimed it is from Dominica, an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. A few days later, around October 20, UK-based news outlets Metro and Sun and New York Post from the US published reports claiming the video is from Dominica.
On October 20, Brazil-based newspaper ‘A Tribuna‘ reported that the video was circulating among internet users in Baixada Santista, a metropolitan area located in São Paulo. But the authorities denied it was from the area. The report added that various sources claimed that video is from their locality in the United States, China and Thailand.
On October 15, a post on Reddit stated the video is from Indonesia. This video has been viewed over million times.
Around October 12, Indonesia-based media outlet Merdeka credited an Indonesia-based Instagram page @fakta.indo for the video. The page had posted it on October 11 with an Indonesian caption that claimed a 10-metre long python was found in a forest.
The video was also uploaded by several Malaysian YouTube channels such as Harian Semasa (October 12) and KawKaw Channel in two parts Part 1 (October 11) and Part 2 (October 12). As per both, the incident happened in Tanah Merah District of Kelantan state in Malaysia.
Both the channels have attributed their video to the TikTok account fakrulazawa with over 350,000 followers. Alt News accessed TikTok using a VPN since it’s banned in India and found that multiple users had posted this video around October 11 (1, 2, 3) along with a caption in Malay, an Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore and unofficially spoken in East Timor and parts of Thailand. User fakrulazawa posted a video on October 10, the earliest iteration of the viral video that we found. It gained over 5 million likes. On October 23 the account became inaccessible; presumably deleted.
We also noticed that @fakrulazwa had uploaded a longer one-minute video of the same incident. It showed the men from viral video transferring the snake from a cage to a car with the number plate DAG 3733. The account was taken down before we could take a screenshot. However, segments from the longer video can be seen in a New York Post article.
Audio analysis of the viral video
At the 12-second mark in the viral video, we can hear a local person speak. We spoke with 33-year old Mohd Shahrul Effendy, a resident of the Malayasian state Negeri Sembilan. He is an employee at the country’s Ministry of Works. He informed, “At the 12-second mark, the phrase “kemana itu” in Indonesian which translates to “where to go” in English can be heard. Tanah Merah area is known to have many Indonesian nationals living and working in the forest near Kelantan. The person in the video seems to be reacting to the snake trying to look for a way out while trapped between the jaws of the crane.” Referring to the longer video by Harina Semasa, he said, “In this video, Malaysian dialect can also be heard.”
Upon asking about the vehicle registration, Effendy added, “DAG 3733 is a cent per cent from Kelantan state in Malaysia,” adding that number plates registered in Kelantan begin with ‘D’. We checked the latest vehicle registration number in the state (as of October 25, 2021) on the official portal of the road transport department of Malaysia and found that it began with a ‘D’.
Thus, the video was shared on social media globally with various claims about its location. Our research points that the video was most likely shot in Kelantan, Malaysia. It was picked up by News18 and several other outlets which falsely claimed the incident took place in Jharkhand.