As a Young Elephant in South Africa Turns Angry, Visitors Stay in Their Cars

An elephant had an itch it just had to scratch – on a car enjoying a South African safari.

The VW Polo and its two terrified occupants found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time as the giant elephant stooped down to rub itself against the vehicle’s roof and bonnet.

The incredible images were taken by Armand Grobler, 21, a field guide and lodge manager, in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa.

He told Barcroft: “I was doing ethology – the study of animal behaviour – at the time, so I had a basic understanding of what was going on.

“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.

“Yet even though it was in this condition, it displayed no signs of aggression or frustration and was in a more playful mood.”

Elephants frequently use logs, small trees and rocks to relieve an itch or remove parasites – but with the car so close to hand, it was a chance too good for the animal to pass up.

Armand added: “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.

“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.

“The two passengers in the car, male and female, both in late 20s or early 30s, were not harmed, only badly shaken up. They were both in shock but happy to be alive.

“The car was not so lucky. From what we could see and hear, all the windows were smashed, the roof was badly dented and the entire top part of the car smashed.

“All four tyres had been blown and the chassis broken.”

As for the elephant, after giving itself a good scratch, it continued on its way itch-free – oblivious to the destruction it had left behind.

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