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Elephants in a forest about 400 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur (archive photo)

Photograph:? Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters/ REUTERS

A 48-year-old man was driving with his wife and son on a highway near the Malaysian city of Gerik on Sunday evening when he suddenly crashed into an elephant calf in a left-hand bend.

According to police, there was light fog and drizzle at the time of the accident. "The car crashed into the young elephant, who was running across the road with his herd," a spokesman said, according to CNN. The calf had fallen to the ground.

"When the other five elephants noticed this, they ran to the vehicle and started trampling on it," the spokesman continued. Only when the cub got up again did they let go of the car and leave the road.

Authorities could not say what condition the calf was in after the accident. According to initial reports, no one from the family in the car was injured. However, the vehicle showed signs of the collision: the doors were smashed, all the windows were broken, and the rest of the car was also damaged.

The family was on their way from the island of Penang to the northeastern coastal state of Terengganu. Conservationists complain that elephants in Malaysia are increasingly forced to cross the roadways in search of food due to the increasing construction of highways. A number of forest areas have fallen victim to the construction boom, and the habitat of wild elephants is getting smaller and smaller.

The police of Gerik called on motorists to be more careful after the latest accident, warning signs were erected. In 2017, a dead baby elephant was found on the side of the road, presumably run over.

In May 2022, an adult elephant was filmed running along a highway near Gerik. In 2020, a stressed elephant panicked after several motorists honked at it. He, too, was trampling on a car.