Turning to present posterior and walking backward toward another or other, often higher-ranking, elephant(s). Back-Toward may be observed when individuals (usually adult/adolescent and juvenile females) attempt to join or move to a more central or advantageous position in a gathered group such as during a Bonding-Ceremony, when Bunching, when joining a Resting group, or when an adolescent female approaches a mother with a newborn. Males may engage in Back-Toward during Social Play with a larger partner.

Back-Toward may sometimes be a gesture of appeasement to avoid an aggressive response by a larger elephant, or, within families, as a signal of respect - such as when joining a Resting group, or, in the case of Bunching it may be a way to keep eyes, ears and tusks pointed toward the perceived threat. All age sex groups may Back-Toward the carcass or bones of a dead elephant.

References: Moss 1988; Moss 1992: 130; Poole 1996: 159; Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Langbauer 2000; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Birth, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Coalition Building, Social Play, Submissive


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (1)

Little E gets too close to Grumpy Grandma, f0412, and she Kicks-Back and Little E Roars, Lorato reaches out to him. f0412 Kicks-Back again, he Roars again, and then she Tusks him and he Roars. But as part of the Tusking movement she curls her trunk and uses it in a directed way to push him straight toward his mother (Shepherding). His mother reaches out with her trunk and directs him to her breast (Guiding) and he immediately Suckles. She again does a Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast. When f0412 Tusks Little E Lorato scoots around the front and then Backs-Toward Mama Little E such that Little E is in between them. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (2)

Little E is 3 days old and is in a patch of forest on the bank of a lugga. Mama Little E has been Waiting for him at the end of this riverine forest. She stands attantively, Ear-Stiff Listening, Waiting, occasionally reaching her Trunk-Toward her infant behind her. Then she Backs-Toward him to retrieve him. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)