An undulating Rumble of medium duration (~1.5-3.5 seconds) with an audibly detectable and distinctive complaining or whining tone. We refer to this as a Grumble-Rumble. This call is typically heard when the calling elephant, often a calf or younger elephant, has been thwarted or mistreated in some manner.

For example, when a mother denies a Begging calf access to her breast, the calf may escalate Begging-Rumbles into a more modulated or undulating and sometimes open-mouthed Grumble-Rumble. A calf gently Tusked, Head-Swiped or Pushed out of the way may Grumble-Rumble. We have also recorded a semi-captive elephant Grumble-Rumble when prevented by her caregivers from going to the roadside where she was accustomed to begging for food from tourists.

References: Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Submissive, Protest & Distress


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

Ruby's 6 year male has been trying to Suckle for a while and has been complaining with Roars, Cries and Grumble-Rumbles. He leans into her on her left side and she Kicks-Back at him. He goes around the other side to try and she keeps him at bay by using a Body-Nudge and by using her tail to swat him (Tail-Swatting). He leans back and gives a Grumble-Rumble. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (2)

Big Mama and family Moving-While-Feeding. We see a 4.5 year old female calf walking alongside its mother begging to suckle (holding onto her mother's leg - Grasp-Leg, and walking persistently alongside her mother and in a Periscope-Trunk posture). Her mother stops briefly to allow her calf to Suckle and then moves on with the group. The calf Solicits-Suckling again and again and we see the mother pause. Then while the camera is on Big Mama at the lead we hear the calf give a Grumble-Rumble complaining we assume because its mother keeps moving. Later we hear a Roar and Cry. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (3)

Walli is struggling with two calves wanting to Suckle, a 5 year old male and an infant female. She has not done a good job at weaning the older calf and he is very persistent and taking his anger out on his sister who is very distressed.

This clip follows another one in which the female has been Roaring in distress while Walli tried to stop the male from Suckling. In this clip we see her almost box him with her trunk, reaching back and hitting his ear and then we see his body jolt as she Kicks-Back at him. He complains with a prolonged Grumble-Rumble. She walks away and he follows and Grumble-Rumbles again. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (4)

Walli is feeding on grass with two calves by her side, a newborn and a 5 year old male. The selection starts with the older calf exhibiting Solicit-Suckling and begging with two Grumble-Rumbles and then a softer Grumble-Rumble. Just as he manages to Suckle, Walli moves forward, pushing her body into him in a Reject-Suck and he is thwarted.

Meanwhile her infant also Solicits-Suckling on her left side, but just as she begins Suckling (Double-Suckling), Walli moves forward. The infant runs forward between her legs and she uses front foot to try to guide her back to the safer side. The infant gives a low-intensity Husky-Cry. Walli again walks forward blocking the five year old male and he complains. Then she Reject-Suck-Kick - swinging her back leg out at him unsuccessfully. The male tries again (giving a Grumble-Rumble and Cry-Grumble-Rumble) and she stops and both suckle (Double-Suckle) - briefly because she then uses both front and hind leg to Reject-Suck-Kick and he gives a very complaining Roar-Grumble-Rumble.

She walks on and the 5 year male runs around the back and tries to access form the other side. The newborn sees that male coming and gives two Husky-Cries in quick succession that are beginning to sound like Grumble-Rumbles and Runs-Away. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (5)

A family of elephants is on the move and we can hear the sounds of livestock in the background, which may make the adults more anxious to keep going. Two calves are trying to Suckle. A circle marks the one in the rear of the group who is more difficult to spot. As its mother begins to walk this calf gives an open-mouthed Grumble-Rumble in complaint. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (6)

Selengei's 6 year male calf walks along side of her in a Solicit-Suckling posture and gives a Begging-Rumble. She stops and adopts a Suckling-Stance and he Suckles. He decides to try his luck on the other side. On his way around behind her he stops to pinch her genitals - as if to let her know he wants more. He has learned a lot of tricks by this age!

After his pinch he gives a Begging-Rumble and Suckles while she browses. Then she begins to walk and he again walks along side of her in a Solicit-Suckling posture, his trunk outstretched, and gives another Begging-Rumble. She continues to walk and he gives a third Begging-Rumble. She stops and adopts a Suckling-Stance and he Suckles. We can hear Maasai livestock in the background and she is eager to move on. She interrupts his Suckling and he gives a Grumble-Rumble in a more complaining tone. She continues to walk.

In this series of calls we can hear the subtle shift from polite Begging-Rumble to more complaining Grumble-Rumble - it is not easy to draw a clear line between the two. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (7)

Selengei's 6 year male has been Suckling on both sides very persistently. When Selengei finally loses patience and begins to walk he gives a Grumble-Rumble. The audio is poor. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (8)

This is part of a Greeting-Ceremony between Abra and Angelina and others. Abra and her 3 year old calf have come Swimming from the other side of the swamp to meet or to Help Angelina who has just been through an ordeal during which a medium sized male attacked one of her twins in the deep swamp.

Abra arrives and immediately a Greeting-Ceremony takes place. But her calf is very eager to Suckle and seems to complain at the disturbance. She is touched several times by her sister, Allura, who has been with Angelina. While these calls sound as if she is complaining, it may be that she is joining in the Greeting-Ceremony and that these are just small calf Oral (Open-Mouthed) Rumbles that are typical of Greeting-Rumbles. (Amboseli, Kenya)