An elephant, typically male, and often with a Penis-Erection, placing his forelegs on a dead elephant, as if to Mount it. Goldenberg & Wittemyer (2019) comment that attempts to Mount a carcass were restricted to very fresh deaths. This is also our observation.

References: Croze 1971; Spinage 1994; Poole 1996: 98; Poole 2000b; Merte et al 2008; Goldenberg & Wittemyer 2019. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Death


Context: Death (1)

This clip is made from a series of photographs taken in July 1981 in Amboseli. We were watching a large aggregation of elephants when suddenly we observed elephants running in one part of the group. I caught a glimpse of adult female with long splayed tusks toppling over. It was Polly. She tried to pull herself to her feet as dark bands of Temporin streamed down the sides of her face. Her eyes were wide and shining, revealing her possible confusion and pain. She pulled herself half way up and then began to topple toward us, falling first onto her long right tusk, pivoting on it, and then crashing to the ground beside us. She let out a long sigh that reverberated down her trunk, and then she was gone. Her family had already departed, unaware of what had happened to her, but four young males were headed her way. They came with a light step until they saw Polly, then they lifted their Trunks-Toward her and in Periscope-Trunk posture, and moved toward her.

The sequence of images shows two males. The oldest male, Kasaine, reached his Trunk-Toward her and touched her on her back. Then he moved to her left tusk and touched it, while another younger male touched her back. He lifted his left foot and stepped on her trunk rolling it gently back and forth underfoot still touching her tusk with his trunk. The younger male moved around further to Polly's hindfeet and grasped and pulled her tail, while Kasaine touched her upper body with his right forefoot. Then Kasaine walked around to the other side of her head and again wrapped his trunk around her tusk and began to Pull trying to Lift her, moving her head into a new position, while the younger male engaged in Flehmen-Carcass. Failing to Lift her, Kasaine walked around her body and began to Mount her, while the younger male moved to stand near Polly's head. During the next half an hour Kasaine Mounted her repeatedly.

The following day, after the rangers had removed her tusks, we returned to her body and found three males standing in Silence over her, touching her body and bloodied face where her tusks had been removed. One of them was Kasaine. (Amboseli, Kenya)