Head-Waggling

Waggling of the head from side to side. This behaviour is observed during Social Play as a component of Solicit-Play and Sparring-Initiation and is associated with Lone and Object Play when an elephant considers an object of play. Head-Waggling may also follow a period of Contemplation, when the behavior appears to be an outward expression of internal thoughts and feelings. Head-Waggling may be observed in all age/sex groups, though most often in younger individuals.

References: Poole 1996:150, 151, 153, 155, 156; Poole 1998a; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Attentive, Lone & Object Play, Social Play

Head-Waggling

Context: Attentive (1)

A large group of elephants standing around dusting and interacting. A calf is standing in the middle of the group and appears to be in her own thoughts. She Head-Waggles and steps down a little bank and moves on with the group. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Attentive (2)

Little E is 15 days old. He and his mother walk toward the car. Allomother Lorato comes crashing out of the bushes not to be left behind. As she approaches she Head-Waggles as if to herself and then touches Little E Trunk-to-Mouth and Trunk-to-Genitals. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Attentive (3)

A less than one year calf is following its mother. He appears to be in a contemplative state - thinking about something - as he is Trunk-Sucking and Head-Waggling to himself and adopts a bit of an Exaggerated-Walk. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Attentive (4)

An 18 month old calf joins its family to Drink. The calf Head-Waggles as if lost in its own playful thoughts. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Attentive (5)

Pascal has just arrived in the ND family where Nastya is in estrus. He is walking toward her when another juvenile female, Ndebele, stops and turns to greet him Trunk-to-Mouth. He reciprocates. She seems excited by her greeting and Head-Waggles - almost a Head-Shake and they continue on their way. (Amboseli, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (1)

C family calves are feeding side by side. Watching the littlest calf biting off vegetation, the four year old calf in the middle Head-Shakes. This is followed by a Head-Shakes by the far calf and they begin to play. Although there is no audio on this clip which was originally slo-mo, the littlest calf would have heard the Head-Shakes, and she Head-Shakes, too. Is this an example of Contagion? (Gorongosa, Mozambique)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (2)

Two males in view. The male on the right begins to walk toward the male on the left. As he approaches he Head-Waggles and begins to raise his head and opens his mouth (Open-Mouth). The male on the left takes his behavior as an invitation to Spar and likewise raises his head and engages. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (3)

Three calves <2 years old are at play. A male (back left) reaches his trunk over (Reach-Over) the calf closest to the camera, but this male moves away and the male Mounts the other calf instead. As the calf in the foreground contemplates the situation he Head-Waggles. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (4)

As a one year old female calf approaches and investigates the car she playfully Head-Waggles. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (5)

Several calves are at play. The first, a female, calf walks through frame Head-Waggling and is followed by a < 1 year old male who Head-Waggles as he almost dances along. He Pirouettes to Orient-Toward another calf and adopts an expectant posture - Ear-Spreading and ready to lunge forward. A third, male, calf comes into frame and the two Push one another then run along together. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (6)

Two males are engaged in a Sparring match. A young male watches them and then Head-Waggles as he approaches them to join in their game. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)

Head-Waggling

Context: Social-Play (7)

Families of elephants are at KH4 water hole and many are playing. Calves Spar. An adult female Head-Waggles as she waits for another to approach her. A juvenile female Head-Waggles back but walks past her and then approaches us Head-Waggling and gives a Nasal-Trumpet. She stops to consider us. (Amboseli, Kenya)