Streaming of secretion from the temporal glands of non-musth elephants. Temporin may be ephemeral or sustained and is more frequently observed among females. Many socially stimulating interactions within families are associated with the sudden onset of Temporin among adult females and, most often, their female offspring. These secretions may stream down the side of the face within seconds of the onset of the interaction. In these cases the onset of Temporin usually appears to be associated with vocalizing and typically dries within 10-15 minutes.

In East African populations, our observation is that sustained Temporin is more likely to be observed among females and when they are separated from their families or when individuals are disturbed. In these habitats Temporin is more frequently observed in the dry season, due, we believe to the fact that relatives are forced to split into smaller groups.

In Gorongosa, Mozambique, this pattern does not hold. Most elephants, no matter the age or sex, secrete from the temporal glands during both dry and wetter periods, and when they are in large and small groups. While the population is fearful and aggressive toward people, we do not believe that stress is the reason for the difference observed. Much more research is needed to understand the function of Temporin among elephants.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Moss 1981; Poole & Moss 1981; Moss 1988; Poole 1982: 61; Poole et al 1988; Poole 1996: 93, 137, 275; Payne 2003; Poole & Granli 2003; McComb et al. 2003; Poole & Granli 2011; [Streaming, Temporal-Gland-Secretion & (wrongly) Musth]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Affiliative, Coalition Building, Conflict & Confrontation, Courtship, Social Play


Context: Social Play (1)

Three 18 month old males are playing and roughhousing. The male on the left gets fresh Temporin when engaged in Mounting and play behavior. His Temporin increases from level 0 to 2 over the course of a couple of minutes. The male on the right also get Temporin. It is unusual to see calves with Temporal Gland secretion and it is not clear whether it is related to their play or something else. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (2)

Two male calves about 18 months old have been engaged in a bout of Sparring after one woke the other up. Notice that the male on the left has no Temporin on his left side but Fresh 3 Temporin streaming down his face on the right. Notice, too, that he uses his trunk to self check the status of his Temporin on both sides. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)