The incident occurred at about 7.15am on Thursday morning, said Kruger National Park spokesman William Mabasa.
“The tourists, two men and a woman, were on their way to Letaba Rest Camp and stopped the Sable Dam, which overlooks a sleep-over hide and has an abundance of animals that gather to drink,” Mabasa said.
The elephant was drinking water from the dam on the opposite bank to the vehicle when it crossed the dam. In the resulting chaos the animal – which averages in weight to more than five tons – gored the small family sedan and turned it onto its roof.
“There was a second vehicle present which managed to distract the elephant by making a noise. It turned and went back into the bush,” Mabasa added.
A local doctor was rushed to the scene and established only minor injuries had been sustained by the Tzaneen residents, who were already recuperating from their ordeal at home.
“According to the tourists who were there, the elephant did not show any signs of agitation. We would like to appeal to the public to be on the look-out for them when driving in that area. Please ensure that you are not blocked by another vehicle when these huge animals approach, so that you can get away quickly when the need arises,” said Mabasa.
“More than 1, 5 million people visit the KNP each year and incidents of this sort are rare but not unheard of as elephants can toss and uproot trees with ease.”
In January Sarah Brooks and her South African fiancé Jans de Klerk, who live in England, made headlines when an elephant attacked them while they were following it.
The elephant was shot.
This time, there are no plans to hunt the elephant down. “It was already gone by the time we arrived so we cannot hunt any elephant down,” Mabasa said.
He added it was unknown if the elephant was in musth, or what had triggered the attack. Musth is a surge in testosterone of bull elephants, usually occurring around breeding season