An Attentive elephant plucking at vegetation, as if foraging, but typically not ingesting any of the material, or doing so in a desultory or distracted fashion. Performed in conflict situations such as in Aggressive, Submissive, Conflict & Confrontation, Courtship, and Social Play contexts when an individual shows incompatible tendencies, such as fleeing versus attacking.
For example, by males during Sparring or Escalated-Contests, or by young males near an estrous female who are “pretending” to do something else so as not to provoke aggression by the Guarding male. Displayed by elephants, particularly adult females, during Conflict & Confrontation when Contemplating whether or not to attack. Also displayed by elephants of both sexes when Queuing-Up - waiting their turn at a waterhole or fallen tree or other scarce resource.
References: Tennent 1867: 138; Kühme 1963: 78; Douglas-Hamilton 1972: 140; Estes 1991: 267; Moss 1992: 131, 132; Spinage 1994: 178; Sukumar 1994: 99; Poole & Granli 2003. (Full reference list)
This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Ambivalent, Conflict & Confrontation, Courtship, Social Play, Vigilance