An attentive elephant self-grooming when grooming is inappropriate. May include throwing dust, vegetation, etc. onto self. Performed in conflict situations such as in Aggressive, Submissive, Conflict & Confrontation, Courtship, and Social Play contexts when an individual shows incompatible tendencies, such as fleeing versus attacking.
For example, by males during Sparring or Escalated-Contests, or by young males near an estrous female who are “pretending” to do something else so as not to provoke aggression by the Guarding male. Displayed by elephants, particularly adult females, during Conflict & Confrontation when Contemplating whether or not to attack. Also displayed by elephants of both sexes when Queuing-Up - waiting their turn at a waterhole or fallen tree or other scarce resource.
References: Tennent 1867: 133, 139, 141; Kühme 1963: 70, 78; Eisenberg & Lockhart 1972: 25; Douglas-Hamilton 1972: 140; McKay 1973: 63, 66; Adams & Berg 1980; Douglas-Hamilton & Douglas-Hamilton 1992; Spinage 1994: 151; Sukumar 1994: 98, 99. Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Poole & Granli 2003. (Full reference list)
This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Ambivalent, Conflict & Confrontation, Courtship, Social Play, Vigilance