Car flipped by randy elephant bull

2011-02-22 11:26

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.

Somers and his wife Judy are regular visitors to the Pilanesberg game reserve. However, on Thursday Judy, a chef, had to take care of a friend’s guesthouse. Somers and Carina Lowers, a friend visiting from Johannesburg, decided to go for a drive in the nature reserve.

Elephant 'making advances'

“When I turned a corner there was a bakkie 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 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.

Landed on roof

“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.

“Carina was very scared and wanted to crawl out, but I first wanted to see where the elephant was. When we saw it walking away we crawled out through the window.”

While Amarula was nonchalantly flipping his car over, there was a deathly silence, said Somers. Two other vehicles were parked nearby.

The elephant bull passed close to the car on the right-hand side of the road and disappeared into the bushes.

“There was a guide from Pretoria, a guy called Pieter, with two Italian tourists. They helped us a lot.”

At the Pilanesberg centre a doctor and a nurse, also visitors, treated their injuries - mostly lacerations from the broken windows, bruises, and scratches from the thorn bushes next to the road.

“The rangers were also very helpful.”

Johnson Maoka, manager of the nature reserve, says a bull elephant in musth can act unpredictably.

He recommended not trying to pass an elephant on the road, but rather doing a U-turn and going another way.

  • SkerP - 2011-02-22 11:42

    I have it on good authority that the bakkie driver tried to warn Mr Somers, but Somers said he knew how to handle elephants, and overtook anyway. Having almost been on the receiving end of a funt in musth, on a radial road in KNP, with no alternative route back to camp, I can only deduce that Mr Somers has learnt a valuable lesson.

      jevoixtout - 2011-02-22 11:54

      Sounds about par for the course when it comes to tourists that are let loose in our national parks. "Here kitty kitty".

      Milo - 2011-02-22 12:39

      So typical! We often go there and they actually hand out warnings at the gates about the bulls in musthe, saying be careful and keep your distance. They deserved what they got, glad they didn't get hurt but I'm tired of people blaming animals for their own bad behaviour!

      benjvanniekerk - 2011-02-22 13:26

      Maybe he shouldnt take skelmpie into a game reserve, or his wife contracted the elephant. She can be in trouble with the cops now?

  • DakaloM - 2011-02-22 11:44

    Yoh, they should sue the game reserve for the damages on the car and the trauma caused by the Elephant

      Flee - 2011-02-22 11:59

      Enter at own risk... DAH!!!!

      THH - 2011-02-22 12:02

      And I will represent the Elephant. You cant be serious or are you.

      jevoixtout - 2011-02-22 12:02

      You ARE joking. Right?

      lindie.jansevanrensburg - 2011-02-22 12:07

      I cannot believe your comment. These are wild animals, not trained circus animals. If you go into a area with wild animals you must be ready to take responsibility for yourself. The Game reserve cannot take responsibility for each and every wild animal that they have on their property. I'm sure you will be one of the stupid idiots who gets out off their car's in a game reserve to go and pet the cute little baby lion.

      Telara - 2011-02-22 12:09

      You're knowingly and willingly in their territory, if something happens to you it's your own fault, not the reserve's and certainly not the elephant's.

      GJW - 2011-02-22 12:17

      DakaloM...You are a chop. You enter a game reserve you know the risks and you sign an indemnity. See the comment above yours!!!

      Winzist - 2011-02-22 12:21

      You must be kidding DakaloM.

      debruin.rossouw - 2011-02-22 12:22

      Wait a minute, what?!?! Your not serious? It's stupid people like you that get killed and then blame it on something else! There are two major rules when it comes to driving in a game reserve: 1) DRIVE SLOW 2) KEEP YOUR DISTANCE The driver was stupid. If I were the elephant, I would have done the same - suppose I would have killed the guy as well, but then again, being an elephant, I can't afford going to jail for man slaughter.....

      Livhuwani - 2011-02-22 12:55

      dakie i dont think Park owners and officials have nothing to do with this ignorant man,am glad he is alive, but next time they must learn to respect wild animal

      Shane - 2011-03-04 12:29

      Dont be a DOOS man! That is such a DOF thing to say. Jissis.

  • DAB - 2011-02-22 11:45

    looks like he was just having a bit of fun. If he was aggresive, he would have done a lot more damage. Nice picture. Just glad the two people weren' hurt.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-02-22 11:45

    Sexy cars, these Volkswagens.

  • Mxo32 - 2011-02-22 11:47

    What if the Elephant had killed them? were they going to put it down? If they were, then they must consider refusing people access to their teritory.

  • BlackPoison - 2011-02-22 12:01

    Serves them right. Some people, mostly our senior citizens, thinks that they can have right of way in the parks. Was pushed of the road by an elderly couple who then went and stopped in front of everybody to take pics of a lion in the Kruger Park. Pity the lion had all ready caught its lunch.

      Dee Randall - 2011-05-20 23:33

      That's a pretty sweeping statement about "senior citizens." As one of that number myself, I resent your smug generalization. This senior citizen knows all about musth and not messing with wild animals!

  • Flee - 2011-02-22 12:02

    WOW... Thats one heck of a story for the grand-kids... Like the guy attacked by the Leopard the other day... Lucky to be alive... But hey your in their territory... OOOppss... maseratifitt... Those VW's are Hhh-OT-T-T-T... LOL

  • gareth09 - 2011-02-22 12:04

    This is so old. Beeld had it last week as well as the Saturday star. Come on try have your news current

  • tyron007 - 2011-02-22 12:30

    lol I'm sure this elephants the same one that nearly charged my wife and I a few years ago, never seen my wife drive so fast down a hill :)

  • Mj - 2011-02-22 12:33

    One place to avoid when having children is the Rhino and Lion park in Krugersdorp where you are requested to sign a waiver when entering the lion cub enclosure.They have 3month old cubs which are already more powerful then dogs and already predatory.The game rangers there are quite aloof and the first aid facilities are non existant. You even have to pay extra for this misleading experience.

      Flee - 2011-02-22 12:56

      uuuhhh Great thanks for the heads up... ill try not go there when I have kids???

      Madison - 2011-02-23 14:59

      Your comment is unfair and totally irrelevant to this story. I am a frequent visitor to the Reserve you mentioned and would like to draw your attention to the following: It is common practice to sign an indemnity form at ALL tourist attractions where interactions with wild animals are made possible. They are after all, wild. You are under NO obligation to enter enclosures with animals you feel uncomfortable around or afraid of. It is absolutely up to you to pay the extra fee or not. I would like to know what "facts" you base your accusations on that 3 month old cubs are "predatory" and that the Reserve's first aid facilities are non-existant...? In all the years I've gone to this Reserve (WITH my children aged 4 and 6) I've only ever experienced the staff as being helpful and the animals to be extraordinarily gentle. Your strange and unwarranted attack in response to a completely unrelated story is suspicious, to say the least. Sure you are not a disgruntled former employee or competitor...?

  • corro51 - 2011-02-22 12:38

    Not unusual behaviour for the herds in the Pilansberg, given that the roads resemble the M1 on occasion.

  • DPG - 2011-02-22 12:46

    sue them????????? are u mad????

  • Wildlife Sightings - 2011-02-22 13:00

    Ellies are dangerous - Had a few close calls myself. The best is to keep your distance.

  • Margaret - 2011-02-22 13:11

    I was also there a view months ago, and the same almost happend, a elephant stormed a car before luckily did'nt crash the car, and then she/he saw our car and came storming us... luckily we got away!! That was terrible the experience!!!

  • buddy jones - 2011-02-22 13:18

    maybe the couple were doing something in the car which excited the ele as well......these dirty ol folk!!!!!!

      IAmTheDarkPrince - 2011-02-22 13:30

      I also thought it a bit dodgy that a man would rather spend his birthday with another woman than help his wife look after a guest house which should have been relatively quiet for one little day and allowed them plenty of time to still cherish the day together ;P

  • Phillipa - 2011-02-22 13:23

    We need to treasure our animals, look after the parks that home them and educate our tourists. On that note, this article could have done with a better reporter / editor - shocking!

  • IAmTheDarkPrince - 2011-02-22 13:24

    "Somers and his wife Judy are regular visitors to the Pilanesberg game reserve. However, on Thursday Judy, a chef, had to take care of a friend’s guesthouse. Somers and Carina Lowers, a friend visiting from Johannesburg, decided to go for a drive in the nature reserve." I smell a different story altogether ^_^

      benjvanniekerk - 2011-02-22 13:46

      Moral of story, If you take skelmpie to game reserve, you might be flipped over.

  • Wikkelbokkie - 2011-02-22 13:25

    Eish! Olifante is nie jou speelmaat nie!

  • kingswing69 - 2011-02-22 13:41

    This is old news News24 catch a wake up

  • Caroline - 2011-02-22 13:53

    ooh skande !!!! He had another girl in the car ...

      motsokwane - 2011-02-22 14:27

      Hey chaychuk how are you? long time babes.

  • Xenonphobic - 2011-02-22 14:30

    I wonder if his car insurance covers being rear-ended... by a 5 foot long phallus?

  • Niknac - 2011-02-22 15:42

    Poor old man, he has been going to the reserve all his lyfe, now this!!! I cant imagine the trauma.

  • Frank - 2011-02-22 18:59

    Randy?????? Could they not find a more excellent word?

      maseratifitt - 2011-02-22 19:55

      I think randy is most excellent. The lesson that we should learn from this episode is that Volkswagens should not make a passat randy elephants.

  • Bman_01 - 2011-02-23 10:38

    People do stupid things in game reserves I had to rescue a corsa bakie in Kruger the driver decided to the leave the road and go for a drive on a dry river bed in Kruger I had a 4X4 and I woudnt do something that stupid I managed to pull him out just in time as some Elephants came around the corner.

  • Brian - 2011-02-23 12:56

    He was just playing a game of Marco Polo

  • Robb - 2011-02-25 11:31

    As I understand this it is a news story, informing the public what happend. I did not read that Mr Somers was looking to make any fuss with the parks board or any one els. Yes things can happen and do, this is an example. I am happy the Mr Sommer and guests were not too badly injured and I do believe that it is importanat to keep the public informed. Mr&Mrs Public...try an keep to all warnings and try and listen..makes it so good for all who come to explore our wounderful world. Robb

  • Tracy Todd - 2011-03-01 14:04

    This could definitely be a possible solution for my constipation. ;-)

  • Ronel Serrano - 2014-01-15 03:00

    People are disrespectful towards wild animals, I came across a bunch of people out of their car walking of into the bush after a herd of elephant trying to photograph them! Needless to say the language I used to get them back in their car was not very ladylike. lol

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