Fact Check

Elephant Road Rage

Fauxtography: Photographs purportedly show an angry elephant overturning an automobile in a game reserve.

Published May 25, 2011


Claim:   Photographs show an angry elephant overturning an automobile in a game reserve.


Example:   [Collected via the Internet, May 2011]

These photos are from Thursday, Feb. 17 by someone from
Centurion in Pilanesberg game reserve, South Africa. The guy in the
silver Volkswagen (second photo) was trying to get past the elephant.



Origins:   The gist of this item is true, as the photographs displayed above do capture a bull elephant overturning some tourists' Volkswagen Passat at the Pilanesberg game reserve in February 2011. Its only discrepancy is that, according to a news account of the incident, the driver was not attempting to "get past the elephant" but rather had stopped his vehicle and shut off the engine at the time the bull began to flip the car over:

"When I turned a corner there was a [small truck] in the road in front of us. The driver started reversing and stopped next to us. I'm Irish and he was speaking Afrikaans, but I could make out the word 'elephant'," said John Somers.

It later emerged that the elephant was Amarula, one of the largest bulls in the reserve.

"I tried to reverse, but the back of the car was half off the road in a ditch and in order to get out I would have had to drive forward.

"The elephant came walking down the road. I was afraid of making a noise and turned the engine off."

The elephant was at his vehicle by this time. It broke the window on the driver's side and rubbed up against the car.

"It really seemed to regard the car as a female elephant and was making advances to 'her'.

"Carina and I were very nervous, because we could see the elephant was in musth," Somers continued. Musth is when bull elephants experience a rise in reproductive hormone and highly aggressive behaviour.

"When the bull started flipping the car over, my life literally started flashing past before my eyes.

"The car landed on its roof and we were lying inside it."

Last updated:   15 March 2015


    news24.com.   "Car Flipped by Randy Elephant Bull."

    22 February 2011.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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