Elephant road rage as five animals trample car that hit calf

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Police in Malaysia are reporting a bizarre case of road rage, after a group of elephants attacked a car that had struck one of the herd.

The accident and pachyderm reprisal occurred Sunday night in Gerik, a region about 300 kilometres north of Kuala Lampur. According to a police statement, a car driven by a 48-year-old man accompanied by his wife and 23-year-old son struck an elephant calf at about 7:35 p.m. local time.

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Police said the car was “negotiating a left bend on the highway” in drizzle and fog when it hit the baby elephant.

“The car slammed into the young elephant that was walking on the road with the herd,” said Zulkifli Mahmood, Chief Superintendent at Gerik District Police. The calf then fell to the ground, he added.

“Seeing this, the other (five) elephants rushed towards the car and started trampling it.”

No (human) injuries were reported in the incident, but police photos show extensive damage to the vehicle, with its doors caved in and windows smashed.

The condition of the baby elephant was not known, but Mahmood said it “got back up” after the collision, and was able to leave with the rest of the herd.

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Development in the region means elephants have less wild space to roam, so they are more frequently encountering people and cars. Elephant crossing signs have been put up along many highways, particularly in the country’s north, but accidents have still happened.

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In 2022, a lone adult elephant was spotted walking along a highway, also in the Gerik area. Videos shared on social media showed the elephant ambling past bewildered drivers.

In 2020, an elephant trampled on a car that had been traveling on the same highway as the latest incident. That elephant was believed to have panicked after several vehicles started honking at it, local authorities said.

And in 2017, a baby elephant was discovered dead on the side of a highway, apparently killed by a car believed to have been speeding, elephant conservation group Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) said at the time.

Joyce Poole, who co-founded an elephant research and advocacy non-profit called Elephant Voices, told Business Insider that the reaction was “not atypical” for elephants.

“They’re really tightly bonded families,” she said. “So absolutely, if they feel that a member of their family is threatened, they pull together as a united force. And whether that means just threatening and making a commotion or it means bashing a vehicle, they’ll do it.”

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