An elephant using its trunk to grasp water plants, such as Water-Lillies, and then swish the trunkful of plants back and forth through the water or lift the trunkful out and plunge it back into the water to remove mud clinging to the roots. The elephant may also rub the roots down the underside of its trunk to dislodge more tenacious mud. 

References: Poole & Granli 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Foraging & Comfort Technique


Context:Foraging & Comfort Technique (1)

Aloisio is feeding on water lilies. Notice the technique he uses, first loosening the roots with his trunk and then sloshing the clump back and forth in the water until the roots are cleansed of mud. He places the clump in his mouth and begins to chew. Then he readjusts the clump - roots first and begins to chew again.

While he chews his trunk is once again loosening another clump from the bottom of the pond. We see him exhale and then come up with a new clump in his trunk. But, simultaneously, he realizes that he doesn't want part of the original clump, so while he holds the new clump in the "arm" of his trunk, he uses the tip to break off the bit he doesn't want. Then he begins to wash the second clump. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context:Foraging & Comfort Technique (2)

A young male is feeding on Lily-Pads. Notice that he uses his forefoot to dislodge the roots from the bottom of the pond and that he does not appear to be as proficient at washing water lilies as Aloisio, the larger male in a separate clip. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context:Foraging & Comfort Technique (3)

A young collared male washes a clump of water lilies before eating it. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context:Foraging & Comfort Technique (4)

A group of five males stand in a pond together feeding on water-lilies. Three of them can be seen washing them. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)