Raising and tentatively swinging a foreleg, intermittently. Swinging of a hind-foot may also be observed although this is less common than a forefoot. Individuals in all age sex groups may engage in Foot-Swinging in Submissive, Ambivalent and Conflict & Confrontation contexts when unsure of what action to take, as in Displacement-Behavior. Likewise, all age sex groups may engage in Foot-Swinging in Attentive and Vigilance contexts as seen during Freezing behavior, when elephants may be feeling for or picking up seismic vibrations. In a Movement Space and Leadership context Foot-Swinging is observed among adult females as a signal of intention - i.e. an Intention-Movement - for example, as a component of the Let’s-Go-Stance. In the latter swinging of the hind foot is not observed.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Moss 1988; Poole 1999a; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Ambivalent, Attentive, Conflict & Confrontation, Movement, Space & Leadership, Vigilance


Context: Ambivalent (1)

A teenage male stands Foot-Swinging and Ear-Stiffening in an attentive posture. This behavior took place in the midst of a series of aggressive encounters between other elephants - both males and females. The young male appears to feel Apprehensive about being caught up in the middle of the aggression. The camera pans left and we see a female standing behind him also Foot-Swinging. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalent (2)

Pascal is Guarding Qadija who is in peak estrus and just walking past him where there are other males. He needs to keep a close eye on her. Yet there is a male behind him that is annoying him. He pauses, Looking-Back as if undecided what to do. He Foot-Swings, and then Ear-Waves, Musth-Rumbles as he spins around and Lunges toward the male and then quickly turns around again to follow Qadija. (Amboseli, Kenya)