Elephants are portrayed as sweet and lovely, and maybe a bit clumsy. Perhaps this image is the result of the stories for children – like the “The Jungle Book” or “Dumbo”, where elephants where shown as friendly. The elephants in the zoo or circus are domesticated by trainers and zookeepers, and are quite peaceful. But make no mistake – an agitated elephant can be the most dangerous animal in the world.
Every year elephants are responsible for around 500 deaths. Many of the deaths caused by elephants are attributed to younger male elephants who are wild and more aggressive. As Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell, a biologist at Stanford University said, “I do think that elephants are becoming more aggressive towards humans in very compressed areas where they are being shot at and harassed.”
Having a driving route through a park where elephants live is probably one of the factors that makes these creatures feel harassed. Also, during the mating season the male elephants may be stressed due to fighting and competition. That is why from time to time in the Khao Yai National Park in Thailand we can witness elephants attacking cars.
In such moment the best is to maintain a distance of at least 30 meters from the elephant, don’t honk the horn or make any noise and always keep the car engine on so as to turn back in time if the elephant walks closer. Easier said than done though… We can see what happens when such frightening encounter happens: