An often barely audible, flat or descending humming or pulsating sounding Rumble (‘mm-mm-mm’), of medium duration (~2-3.5 seconds) produced in a series by infants, calves and juveniles of either sex when they are separated from and searching for their mothers and/or families. The body posture of a lost calf (Chin-Out; Ear-Spreading, Tail-Raising; Trunk-Curved-Under) indicates that it feels insecure and frightened. The calf calls and then Freezes, standing with his head raised and ears spread, and Listens, presumably for an answer to his call, and then calls again. This pattern is repeated over and over, with the Rumbling sometimes increasing in amplitude, until he locates his mother or other family member. A separated calf's typically rapid movement, as it searches for his family, is likely to be the cause of the pulsating quality of the call.

We refer to calls of this quality, given in this context as Separated-Rumbles or Lost-Calls. As the calf becomes more distressed, Separated-Rumbles may develop into Rumble-Roar-Rumbles.

References: Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

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


Context: Protest & Distress (1)

Calves and juveniles have been playing in the water along with older males. Suddenly they realize that their mothers are calling and they are about to be left behind by their families. They begin to move from the water, some of them giving 'lost calls' or Separated-Rumbles and others Trumpeting as they run to catch up, still playing. This half playful behavior is typical of calves who are left behind, but not fearful of being truly lost or separated. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Protest & Distress (2)

Elephants have been Bathing and playing in a pool for hours. As we are filming we hear a shrill Trumpet of a calf and then the low urr-urr Separated-Rumble. Suddenly an infant appears from the long grass running fast. It runs flat out and splashes into the pool with the others. An adult female reaches out to the calf and is likely its mother. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Protest & Distress (3)

Families of elephants have been Mud-Splashing and there has been a bit of aggression between several females. A mother is chased away and gets separated from her 5 year old calf. The calf walks away from the mud-wallow looking for his mother. We hear a low Rumble from his mother and the calf stops to Listen (first circle) then gives what sounds like a Separated-Rumble - it has that pulsated whrrr-whrrr-whrrr sound. His mother answers and he walks over to her and they are reunited. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Protest & Distress (4)

Families of elephants are moving toward Longinye Swamp in group after group. Several juveniles have left their families to Spar together and have become separated from their mothers. The families themselves seem agitated and we wondered at the time why they seemed concerned. Now listening to the audio with my earphone on we can hear the low bass of music playing - either blasting from a vehicle in the distance or from nearby villages.

One of the juveniles comes toward us giving Separated-Rumbles or ''lost calls''. In the clip the juvenile calls four times. We can hear distant responses. These calls are so low in frequency that you need to use earphone to hear them. The juvenile suddenly turns and runs back to the family it was with, although we don't think that this is his family. (Amboseli, Kenya)