Using the trunk to point toward or sniff toward an individual, object or scent of interest. The trunk is held relatively straight and pointed in the direction of the object of interest. While the assumption has been that this behavior indicates that the individual is sniffing, we changed the term from Sniff-Toward to Trunk-Toward, because we believe that the behavior may, sometimes, serve a visual signalling function, as in drawing the attention of others to an individual or object of interest. All age/sex groups engage in Trunk-Toward.

References: Rasmussen & Schulte 1998; Poole 1999a; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011 [Sniff-Toward/Hovering-Sniff]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Attentive, Birth, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Conflict & Confrontation, Submissive, Vigilance


Context: Advertisement & Attraction (1)

A young male walks toward an adult female (larger than he is) and sniffs her genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals). Simultaneously, an infant raises its Trunk-Toward him and touches him. The adult female Looks-Back at him and Touch-Self. He puts his trunk in his mouth to Flehmen, and considers. Then he Ear-Brushes her, in a pushy rather than totally friendly way, and reaches Trunk-Toward her x 2.

On the second one a tuskless adolescent (foreground right) raises Trunk-Toward him in a Forward-Trunk-Swing kind of motion, as if she is intervening to help her presumptive mother. It is as if the normally friendly Ear-Brush is compensation for what is otherwise pushy behavior by a young male. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Advertisement & Attraction (2)

Conor, the largest male on the right, is in musth and is following a group of females along with two other males. One stands facing away from him, apprehensively Contemplating what Conor is doing. A younger male, Email walks back toward Conor and reaches his Trunk-Toward Conor x 2 sniffing him. He pauses to Contemplate, in a Casual-Stance, does another Trunk-Toward and then walks on Trunk-Twisting and with a Trunk-Flick-Down. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)