During Sparring, Dueling, Greeting or during the formation of Coalitions, such as High-Fiving or End-Zone-Dance, elephants may click or clank their tusks together. In affiliative and coalition building contexts this has been referred to as Tusk-Clicking, but the sound is much more of a clank during Sparring or Dueling. In the former two or more closely allied elephants may stand either parallel or face-to-face, adopting Head-Raising, Open-Mouth-to-Open-Mouth, and Trunk-Twining may (apparently purposefully) click their tusks together.

This form of Tusk-Clicking or Clanking occurs during intense social interactions such as High-Fiving, Bonding-Ceremonies or during interactions in which an elephant wishes to express solidarity with a friend or family member such as during a Greeting, Coalition Building or an End-Zone-Dance. In this context the participants are adult or adolescent females. Tusk-Clanking also occurs during Sparring when two males, or a male and a female, stand face to face, also Head-Raising, Open-Mouth-to-Open-Mouth, and Trunk-Twining, their tusks clicking together. Further, elephants will clank their tusks together as weapons as they Duel.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Moss 1988; Payne 2003; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. [Trunk-Clicking] (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Aggressive, Coalition Building, Social Play


Context: Social Play (1)

A group of males is playing in a deep pool. Two are engaged in a playful Sparring match and clash a couple of times and Tusks-Clank together. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (2)

Two males are playing in a water hole together. The male in the foreground swishes his trunk through the water and then the second male approaches him floating on his side and they Spar and we hear a loud Tusk-Clank. The male in the foreground Orients-Away and then lifts his head in a look of surprise, as if the other male has 'goosed' him or something underwater. He gives a short breathy Trumpet as if in surprise, which we have included as an Alarmed-Trumpet. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (3)

Two juvenile males are engaged in a bout of rough Sparring. The male on the right Ear-Folds and forces the other back Pushing him as they engage tusks and we hear Tusks-Clank. The male on the right Lunges at the other male a couple of times. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (4)

Two young males are playing in a deep pool. They Spar briefly and Tusk-Clank. (Amboseli, Kenya)