An elephant took an unconventional approach to scratching an itch when he decided to rub up against a convenient car in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa.

As this series of photos shows it looks like the male put the car to good use, but it clearly wasn’t as satisfying an experience for the terrified people inside.

At first it looks like the elephant is just sniffing the car

Armand Grobler, 21, who took the pictures, said he had studied animal behaviour and the elephant was probably going through a stage called Musth. This is a time that an elephant male has an excess amount of testosterone, turning even the calmest Dumbo into a raging bull.

“Yet even though it was in this condition, it displayed no signs of aggression or frustration and was in a more playful mood,” the field guide and lodge manager said.

Then it seems he is listening to what is inside the car

Elephants would usually use logs, small trees and rocks to relieve an itch or remove parasites – but with the car so close to hand, it was a chance too good to pass up. 

Grobler added: “We were unsure of what to do in the situation when the elephant made contact with the car, and when the car was being crushed, we feared for the lives of the driver and passenger but our efforts were very limited as to what we could do.

If he's not listening to the car, what is he doing?

"The all-round emotion that was within our vehicle, as we watched in horror, was that we were rushed with adrenaline yet terrified and helpless.

“The two passengers in the car, male and female, both in late 20s or early 30s, were not harmed, only badly shaken up. They were both in shock but happy to be alive.

OK, it looks more like he is scratching an itch!

"The car was not so lucky. From what we could see and hear, all the windows were smashed, the roof was badly dented and the entire top part of the car smashed.

"All four tyres had been blown and the chassis broken."

As for the elephant, after giving itself a good scratch, it continued on its way itch-free - oblivious to the destruction it had left behind. 

Photo credit: Barcroft Media