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


Context: Ambivalence (1)

Little E is only 4 days old. Allomother Lorato has defecated. Little E is interested. Mama Little E touches his genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals)and his anus, holds his tail and then Trunk-to-Genitals again three times. Little E then begins to Comfort-Suckle from allomother Lorato who adopts a Suckle-Stance. He stops and Mama Little E comes over and touch him under his mouth (Trunk-to-Mouth) and then along and up his trunk as she turns slightly away from allomother Lorato - Guiding him away from Lorato and toward her. He turns toward her. As this is taking place, Lorato engages in a series of Apprehensive behaviors - Touch-Face, Trunk-Sucking and then steps forward and begins Displacement-Grooming - Dusting but not really. Mama Little E walks on behind Lorato and Little E goes in front of her. As he passes by Lorato touches his genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals). (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalence (2)

Little E is four days old. Lorato is with Little E and is looking a bit insecure finding herself "alone" with him. She scrapes her toes on the ground in a movement that is looks like she is going to dust but doesn't - Displacement-Grooming. She exhibits other signs that she is Apprehensive Ear-Spreading and Touch-Self. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalence (3)

An adolescent female is in a family group with f0470. Both females stand facing car in slightly threatening posture. The adolescent female is Apprehensive about the proximity of the car - both curious and trying to be tough, she engages in Displacement-Grooming. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)