Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Itch-scratching elephant terrifies occupants of car

Vehicle is badly damaged, occupants shaken but unharmed in South African park

Elephant damages car and terrorizes its passengers in Pilanesburg National Park. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

Elephant damages car and terrorizes its passengers in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

An elephant in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa used a small car apparently to scratch an itch while terrifying the passengers inside.

The elephant rubbed against and sat on the roof and hood of the VW Polo, extensively denting the vehicle, smashing out all the windows, blowing out all four tires, and breaking the chassis, according to Armand Grobler’s account in the U.K. Mirror.

“We were unsure of what to do in the situation when the elephant made contact with the car, and when the car was being crushed, we feared for the lives of the driver and passenger, but our efforts were very limited as to what we could do,” Grobler of Armand Grobler Photography told the Mirror.

“The all-round emotion that was within our vehicle, as we watched in horror, was that we were rushed with adrenaline yet terrified and helpless.”

Elephant in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa appeared in a playful mood. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

Elephant in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa appeared to be in a playful mood. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

Fortunately, the male and female occupants were unharmed but, understandably, very shaken.

“They were both in shock but happy to be alive,” Grobler told the Mirror.

Grobler, 21, who captured the moment in photographs, is a field guide studying lodge management in Pilanesburg National Park. He had a basic knowledge of what was happening.

Elephants use trees or rocks to scratch an itch they can’t reach with their trunks, but that might not have been the only reason for its behavior with the car.

Elephant checks out a car in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

Elephant checks out a car in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa. Photo by Armand Grobler Photography used by permission

“The elephant was presumably on musth, which is a time that an elephant male has an excess amount of testosterone, turning even the calmest Dumbo into a raging bull,” Grobler told the Mirror. “Yet even though it was in this condition, it displayed no signs of aggression or frustration and was in a more playful mood.”

The passengers in the car can be thankful for that. Can’t image the outcome had the elephant actually been aggressive.

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