An elephant Contact-Rumbling in association with Head-Lifting, Listening behavior, and rhythmic Ear-Flapping. A Contact-Calling sequence may include several Rumbles: A caller's initial rumble is associated with rhythmic Ear-Flapping and is followed by Listening behavior: The caller's head is held in an attentive lifted position, Head-Raising, with ears cocked, Ears-Stiff, as if waiting for a response, and as if querying, ‘I am here, where are you?’ An answering elephant typically responds with an abrupt lifting of the head and ears as if Listening and a sudden explosive Rumble seemingly stating, ‘I am over here.’ This sudden calling is often unexpected (to the human observer because the initial caller is often distant and her Rumble, therefore, inaudible to human listeners). The initial caller, upon hearing an answer, may respond with another call, often associated with a more relaxed posture, as if sending confirmation that an answer has been received. Nearby family members may also add their voice(s) to the second or third phase of the sequence, and calling back and forth may continue, intermittently, over hours until the individuals meet again.

References: Poole et al 1988; McComb et al. 2003; Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Contact-Rumble, Ears-Stiff, Head-Raising, Open-Mouth and occurs in the following context(s): Movement, Space & Leadership


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (1)

A young mother is walking alone with her day old infant. She stops as if resting and then we see her raise and turn her head and spread and stiffen her ears, Listening. Immediately after her Ear-Flapping and Mouth-Opening indicates she is calling and likely giving an answering Contact-Rumble, though we can't hear a call before. Then she Listens again. We hear a very faint distant rumble in response to her. She pauses Listening and then gives a second softer rumble. She is separated from her family and her infant is vulnerable to predators without them. We believe she is looking for her family. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (2)

Estrous female Wissal is being Guarded by Pascal in a large aggregation. We hear a Contact-Rumble by an elephant who we believe is out of view. Joyce comments, 'distance Contact-Call' and on the matching spectrogram we can see a few more calls follow and then comes an explosive Open-Mouthed Rumble-Roar-Rumble by Wissal accompanied by vigorous Ear-Flapping. More voices join hers in the foreground and Wissal Rumbles again. In the spectrogram we can see that Wissals explosive call is immediately preceded by another caller. We have marked who we believe is the caller. Wissal's powerful calling is likely related to her being in estrous. (Amboseli, Kenya)