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Elephant 'Road Rage' in South Africa

Outline
Circulating message claims that a series of attached photographs depict a case of South African road rage in which a large elephant pushed a car off the side of a rural road and subsequently flipped it over.



Brief Analysis
The incident depicted in the message did take place at South Africa's Pilanesberg game reserve on 17th February, 2011.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



Last updated: 31st May 2011
First published: 31st May 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: Fw: South African Road Rage!...

South African Road Rage!...

These photos are from Thursday, Feb. 17 by someone from Centurion in Pilanesberg game reserve, South Africa ..

The guy in the white Volkswagen was trying to get past the elephant.

Elephant Road Rage 1

Elephant Road Rage 2

Elephant Road Rage 3

Elephant Road Rage 4

Elephant Road Rage 5

Elephant Road Rage 6




Detailed Analysis
This message, which travels via email, blogs and social media posts, claims that a series of attached images depict a case of elephant "road rage" at a game reserve in South Africa. The images show a large elephant first nudging a small car off the side of a rural road and then overturning it into bushes at the roadside.

The images are genuine. While it seems rather foolish to equate animal behaviour with human foibles such as road rage, the incident depicted in the photographs did take place. The photographs were taken at South Africa's Pilanesberg game reserve on 17th February, 2011. A 22nd February 2011 report published on the news24 website notes:
Johannesburg - A Rustenburg man has described how his life flashed before his eyes as an aggressive bull elephant flipped his car over with him and a friend inside last Thursday.

"I never thought I would be killed by an elephant, John Somers of Rustenburg said on Monday.

What is more, it was his 66th birthday - and he was in a Volkswagen Passat he had owned for only two weeks.
Reports suggest that Amarula, the large bull elephant involved in the incident, may have been "making advances" towards the small car. Riaan van Wyk, who was at the scene and took the photographs of the incident told The Sun news:
"Amarula is one of the largest bull elephants in the reserve.

"To make a bad situation worse, he was in musth - a dangerous time where bull elephants become randy, aggressive and pumped full of hormones. "As Amarula made his way closer to the VW Passat I sat quietly in a nearby car.

"Realising what was about to unfold I nervously grabbed my camera."
The driver and his passenger were treated for cuts and bruises but were not seriously injured.

Manager of the reserve Johnson Maoka noted that bull elephants in musth can act unpredictably. Maoka suggest that motorists should not try to pass elephants on the road, bur rather make a u-turn and find an alternative route. However, It appears that the driver of the Volkswagen was unable to retreat in time. He did not actually try to pass the elephant as suggested in the message. In fact, the driver turned off his engine and remained stationary as the elephant approached.

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Car flipped by randy elephant bull
Elephant has sex with a car
Elephant gets (trunk) road rage and flips car caught on camera




Last updated: 31st May 2011
First published: 31st May 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer