As Malaysia's highways expand at a rapid rate, the country's elephants are quickly losing their habitat, resulting in a series of tragic incidents like this one — and a lot of angry elephants seeking revenge.
A herd of elephants trampled a car after it hit one of their calves while driving along a highway in Malaysia.
Mohd Azian Mohd Noor, 48, was driving from the island of Penang to the state of Terengganu with his wife and adult son on November 26. Around 7:30 p.m., weather conditions were poor, including drizzling and fog.
As Noor was going around a left bend in his white Perodua Axia, he struck an elephant calf that was walking along the road with its herd. The calf then fell to the ground.
“Seeing this, the other [five] elephants rushed towards the car and started trampling it,” said Chief Superintendent of Gerik District Police Zulkifli Mahmood, according to CNN.
Noor and his wife and son were all still inside the car when it was being trampled.
“My wife, who was seated in the rear, screamed and said all of us were surely going to be killed,” Noor said, as reported by The Independent.
“The elephants trampled on the left doors of the car and smashed the rear windscreen. It was a most frightening moment because the elephants were trumpeting loudly. We were worried that they would topple the car.”
Luckily, no injuries were reported, and it was reported that the calf got back up.
The car had extensive damage to the front of the vehicle and to the doors, and all the windows were smashed.
While the elephants’ reaction may seem extreme, such behavior isn’t uncommon for these animals, which are very intelligent and emotional.
“If you put yourself in their position, if your kid was hit by a car and you felt that people were negligent or whatever you thought, I suppose you or your family might fly into a rage or scream or shout at people also,” said Joyce Poole, co-founder of Elephant Voices, an elephant research and advocacy nonprofit, in an interview with Business Insider.
“They’re really tightly bonded families,” Poole 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.”
Malaysia is home to an estimated 1,500 elephants that are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and listed as endangered. It is also home to the endangered Borneo Pygmy elephant species, of which it is estimated only 1,000 exist today.
The species is at risk due to habitat loss and aggressive poaching practices. In 2019, a Borneo pygmy elephant was found shot to death with 70 bullet holes and its tusks had been removed. The elephant was shot with a semiautomatic rifle at close range.
The Malaysian elephants are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997, and anyone responsible for the death of one could spend up to five years in prison.
This is far from the first time elephants have shown aggressive behavior toward humans, especially humans who have wronged them in some way.
In what is perhaps the most well-known instance, a woman in India was trampled to death by an elephant — who then crashed her funeral and trampled her body. It is not known what she did to provoke the elephant, as experts said elephants rarely, if ever, attack without provocation.
In another instance, a poacher was trampled to death by an elephant in South Africa. Park rangers were able to recover his cell phone, which police then used to locate his accomplices.
And in Namibia, a herd of elephants chased after two hunters who shot a bull in their herd. While the hunters escaped unscathed, the encounter was filmed and went viral on social media.
Time and again, elephants have indeed proven that they’re more than willing to take revenge if they’re provoked — a lesson that the Noor family in Malaysia recently learned in no uncertain terms.
After reading about the elephants that trampled a car, check out these 21 photos of the escalating conflict between humans and elephants in India. Then, read about the poacher who killed 100 elephants with cyanide in Zimbabwe.