Amarula is the biggest bull elephant in Pilanesberg National Park. He was transferred with a few others from Kruger National Park back in 1998. Amarula became famous across South Africa back in 2011 for being captured on camera flipping a tourist’s car in the park. John Somers described how his “life flashed before his eyes” as a highly aroused Amarula massaged himself against his car before flipping it over into the bushes.
“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 a bewildered John Somers.
“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. It really seemed to regard the car as a female elephant and was making advances to ‘her’.”
According to the game rangers at the park, the elephant was in a state of ‘musth’; this is when the bull elephant experiences an increase in reproductive hormones and becomes highly aggressive. Amarula had also tried to have his way with a rental car with two French tourists inside earlier the same month, leaving them without a front bumper, and with a crumpled roof and flat tyre.
While Amarula may have stolen the headlines, there have been other attacks/seduction attempts on cars by elephants in South African national parks. Earlier this year a large bull elephant caused serious damage to a car driven by a Chinese couple in Kruger National Park.
With all this in mind, remember the risks if you encounter an elephant on the road while driving through Pilanesberg. Have your wits about you, and give the elephants as much room as possible. You are in their space after all. As beautiful as elephants are and as tranquil as they might appear, get too close and you are tempting fate, and might get more of an up close and personal experience than you bargained for.