An elephant vocalising or moving its body, legs, ears or trunk in a manner that appears to be intended to show, guide, herd or escort another elephant(s) or that appears to act as a ‘heads-up’ or to galvanise and guide the action, timing and direction of others in the group. This behavior is primarily observed among adult females in Affiliative, Coalition Building, Attacking & Mobbing,  Movement Space & Leadership, Calf Reassurance & Protection and Calf Nourishment & Weaning contexts and among adolescent and juvenile females in Calf Reassurance & Protection and Calf Nourishment & Weaning contexts.

References: Bates et al 2008. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Coo-Rumble, Ear-Flap-Slide, Ear-Slap, Lets-Go-Rumble, Look-Back, Periscope-Trunk, Purposeful-Walk, Pushing, Trunk-Sweep, Trunk-to-Body, Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast, Trunk-to-Face, Trunk-to-Genitals, Trunk-to-Mouth, Trunk-Toward, Walk-Wait and occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Coalition Building, Movement, Space & Leadership


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

Little E is 3 days old and is standing under his mother's belly. Little E is only 2 days old. He is having a difficult time reaching his mother's breast, but eventually manages to Suckle briefly as his mother is browsing. Then he loses contact and begins searching again and is having difficulty finding the teat. She reaches her trunk back Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast, as if pointing and Guiding him to her breast, but he fails to Suckle. She tries again this time Guiding him by actually lifting his head to her breast whereupon he Suckles.

Grumpy Grandma f0412 arrives and Ear-Brushes and Social-Rubs against Mama Little E's rump and flank and then stands next to them for a moment before walking on. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (2)

Little E is 6 days old and trying to Suckle. Mama Little E is seen to Sniff-Toward (back) presumably as she notices the approach of Grumpy Grandma behind her. She reaches back her Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast x 2, the second time actually appearing to use her trunk to lift Little E's mouth Guiding him to the right location.

As Little E seems to finally Suckle Grumpy Grandma arrives and Social-Rubs against Mama Little E's rump and flank, disturbing Little E. Grumpy Grandma walks on and Mama Little E continues to stand as Little E struggles to suckle with his mother not in the right posture. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (3)

Matriarch f0116 is with her 3 year old calf. She is browsing and her calf is following what she is eating and searching in same area (Social-Learning). The calf reaches to her mouth to Solicit-Food. f0116 then extracts another trunkful and drops a piece for the calf - it would seem purposefully in an act of Food-Sharing. Then she touches the ground where it is x 2, as if showing calf where it is in a possible example of Pointing - Guiding her calf to the stick with her trunk. The calf picks it up and eats it and then uses same maneuver that her mother had used to browse (Social-Learning). (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (4)

Little E is 5 days old and is Suckling from his mother, Mama Little E. She is browsing but has adopted a Suckle-Stance with her foreleg forward to give him access to her breast. Little E reaches up to Suckle and she pauses in her feeding to reach back to touch him Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast.

Notice how she seems to use her trunk to stroke up under his mouth as if lifting his mouth back to her breast (Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast/Guiding) and then Little E begins to Suckle again. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (1)

Little E has found a pile of fresh dung and is eating from it - a behavior known as Coprophagia. A 2 year old female comes along and inspects what he is doing and then uses a gentle Push to stop him from eating the dung and Guide him away from it. We have seen this sort of intervention by older elephants before. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (2)

Little E is only 3 days old. He is under a bush being looked after by allomother Lorato. He seems to have something irritating in his trunk (ants?) and sneezes a couple of times and seems to try to shake whatever it is out.

His mother appears to sense his distress and walks over to help him. She reaches out to him and tenderly grasps and holds/caresses his trunk as if either she understands that something in his trunk is the cause of his distress or because she is trying to lead him away from a problematic place. She holds his trunk in such a way as to lift his head and he follows her out. She encourages him to Suckle and then with his attention gained she begins to lead him away. Someone is giving Let's-Go-Rumbles. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (3)

Little E is 3 days old and has been with allomother Lorato. Then he wanders over to his mother, Mama Little E, who touches him Trunk-to-Mouth and appears to use her trunk to lead him to follow her (a form of Guiding) and Rumbles to him ("come with me?") This is hard to hear with the wind.

Once she has his attention she Shepherds him away from the arrival of a vehicle (which can be heard at the end of the clip and seen in the next section of footage). (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (4)

Little E is 7 days old and is in the bushes with his mother and Lorato. The camera is focused on the matriarch f0412. We hear a Husky-Cry, Coo-Rumble, another Husky-Cry, Coo-Rumble. We are guessing that he was being fondled by Lorato again. Then Mama comes out of the bushes with Little E in tow (with an erection which makes us think we were right about Lorato). She is Walk-Waiting and Looking-Back. She Rumbles again, but this time the quality is different - is this Come-Here?

Little E follows her but then heads toward f0412, which may be dangerous since she has tusked him a couple of times. Mama seem to back up - appearing purposefully to block and deflect Little E, Guiding him away from f0412 ensuring he doesn't get into trouble again. He gets very close to f0412 and Mama seems to Rumble to him again - with a different tone (Come-Here?) She touches him Trunk-to-Genitals as if to draw his attention. Then, as she calls and he runs to her front end, she reaches Trunk-to-Infant-at-Breast x 2 again seeming to purposefully attract his attention and leads him smartly away. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (5)

(No audio as the wind is horrible). Little E is 4 days old. He sees matriarch Grumpy Grandma, f0412, and her adolescent female (and allomother) V-Notch and walks rapidly toward them. As he arrives the adolescent female gives a Coo-Rumble and reaches out toward him. He tries to Suckle from Grumpy Grandma who uses her forefoot to "Kick-Back" at him to get him away. He emits a Husky-Cry.

Little E turns away but then tries again and again. Grumpy Grandma Kicks-Back at him again and then opens her eyes as she lowers her head to look (and perhaps tusk him). Instead her head meets the her daughter's head and f0412 Pushes her away. Her mouth is open but we cannot hear anything. The commotion brings Mama Little E rushing over trying to rescue Little E.

Meanwhile, Little E once more gets too close to Grump Grandma and she Kicks-Back - this time with a hind foot. Little E emits a Husky-Cry. He walks in front of Grump Grandma and V-Notch appears to Guide Little E forward and out of danger. Notice how she walks purposefully forward and reaches Trunk-to-Mouth to Little E getting his attention and getting him to follow her. Then Little E goes behind her and over to allomother Lorato whereupon he tries to Suckle. She reaches Trunk-to-Infant -at-Breast a couple of times. He eventually reunites with his mama. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (6)

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: Movement Space & Leadership (1)

Part of the family is browsing, including the matriarch Grumpy Grandma. Others are anxious to move and are Standing and Waiting. Then adolescent female Latino gives a calf a Push initiating a movement. Latino and calves walk on and eventually the entire family follows them. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (2)

The clip begins with mother and female calf drinking in the river bed. The mother decides it is time to depart and Guides the calf to leave by giving her calf a Trunk-Nudge and then gently Pushes her and moves her along and lead her across the rocky stream. She moves very carefully over the loose and slippery rocks using her trunk to Test-Substrate. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)