A wild elephant was caught on camera last weekend crushing a car at the Thai national park after it strayed into the road. Experts explained that elephants do not usually approach cars and that the individual was apparently under stress due to the mating season or rut.
The incident involved a Thai family that was traveling in their car through the Khao Yai National Park, near Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok. The family was reportedly on the way to the National Children’s Day celebration in the city.
The driver slowed and stopped immediately as the elephant walked into the road. Video footage taken from inside the car shows the elephant approaching the car and narrowly missing a passenger with its tusk. The elephant rests its trunk on the hood and then its forelegs. The hind legs soon follow, as the animal climbs on top of the hood.
The elephant stands on the hood of the car, which crumples under its weight. It appears to attempt to sit on the car but jumps off after a few seconds. The massive body weight of the animal left the car hood severely crumpled and flattened, and the windscreen cracked. But fortunately, the people inside the car were unharmed.
Park officials said that was not the first time this month that an elephant has damaged a vehicle. An elephant damaged three cars passing through the national park on New Year’s Day.
And on Monday, following the weekend incident, an elephant smashed the windows of a shop with its trunk. It broke into the shop and a restaurant at the park, but no one was injured.
Officials said it was not clear whether the same animal was responsible for the mishaps.
According to local media reports, a government veterinarian, Patarapol Maneeorn, said it was unusual for elephants to approach cars and that the elephant probably acted under the stress of the mating season. A park official, Kanchit Srinoppawan, also told local news reporters that the aggressive behavior was likely due to mating season stress.
Some have suggested that the male elephant, under a mating season urge, climbed on the vehicle as part of an instinctive reaction after mistaking the car for a female.
“In the mating season, the elephant might have developed some stress. Moving vehicles might have added to the tension.”
Wildlife experts said that sexually mature male elephants are forced to leave their herd to avoid inbreeding. The male elephant strayed into the road, apparently, after it was forced out of its herd. Male elephants often behave aggressively during the mating season.
People driving through the park have been asked to be wary of stray elephants while the mating season lasts.