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Videos show terrifying moment bull elephant lifts safari truck

Frightened tourists can be seen ducking between seats during a tense standoff between a bull elephant and a safari truck in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa.

Videos of Monday’s incident show a bull elephant lifting the 22-seat truck up several times with his trunk before letting it drop. The driver can be heard calling for the elephant to "go away" and slapping his hand against the side of the truck to scare away the animal.

Hendry Blom, a bystander who caught the incident on camera, told ABC News: "We were definitely scared, especially for the people in the truck because we thought they might die."

PHOTO: A large bull elephant appears to attack a safari truck at Pilanesberg National Park, March 18, 2024, in South Africa. (Hendry Blom)
PHOTO: A large bull elephant appears to attack a safari truck at Pilanesberg National Park, March 18, 2024, in South Africa. (Hendry Blom)

Another video from inside the truck shows frightened tourists cowering on the floor of the vehicle. One woman can be heard praying as the elephant approaches.

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Poncho Mogodiri, field operations manager of Mankwe Game Trackers, the tour company involved in the incident, told ABC News the guide and guests were in animal hide when the bull elephant approached. "Hides provide you with the rare opportunity to unobtrusively view the wildlife and birds at close quarters," according to Pilanesberg National Park.

Mogodiri said some of the tourists "came too close to the elephant to take pictures and he started getting aggressive."

PHOTO: A large bull elephant appears to attack a safari truck at Pilanesberg National Park, March 18, 2024, in South Africa. (Hendry Blom)
PHOTO: A large bull elephant appears to attack a safari truck at Pilanesberg National Park, March 18, 2024, in South Africa. (Hendry Blom)

The guide's actions -- revving the engine, slamming car doors and shouting to ward the elephant away -- have been widely praised by wildlife experts. Mogodiri said the guide reacted "by the book."

"Anyone that’s worked with elephants will tell you when a bull like that charges, you don’t turn and run, you need to make as much noise and stand your ground," said Ron Magill, communications director at Zoo Miami.

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Mogodiri confirmed the bull was in musth, or when an elephant "experiences an increase in reproductive hormones and becomes highly aggressive," according to the Pilanesberg National Park website.

No one was injured in the incident, though Mankwe Game Trackers told ABC News one family had been offered counseling after being left "extremely rattled." The Pilanesberg National Park said it will be conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

Videos show terrifying moment bull elephant lifts safari truck originally appeared on abcnews.go.com