Among families, (typically) an adult female, who places herself on the edge of her family, between them and a perceived threat - such as a human observer - and remains attentive and engaged in Vigilant behavior, monitoring that threat. The elephant may engage in Displacement-Behaviour, half-heartedly plucking at vegetation or dusting, for example, but any movement or sound from the perceived threat results in increased vigilance and a variety of intention movements that indicate an aggressive action could follow. Musth males also Stand-Guard, monitoring the movements of rivals or human observers and taking aggressive action with any perceived transgression.

An aggressive elephant may Stand-Guard over a vehicle for what can seem like an interminable length of time!

References: Poole & Granl 2021. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Chin-Up, Displacement-Feeding, Displacement-Grooming, Ears-Stiff, Head-Swinging, J-Trunk, Look-At and occurs in the following context(s): Vigilance


Context: Vigilance (1)

The C family have already engaged in a Group-Advance on us that was initiated by Corajosa, gf0054. The C family did not follow through and have stopped their advance some distance away. Some of the members have gone back to feeding, but Bullet, gf0032, has not. She is standing closest to us (of the family) and is Standing-Guard - acting vigilant - Listening with Ears-Stiff and Head-Swinging. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Conflict & Confrontation (1)

In smoky evening light found 47e moving out of albidia forest. This was the entire U02 family/bond group with a few males in association. It was very difficult to ID due to the poor light, but all of the large adult females were here so we assumed it was the whole gang. We parked on edge of forest and waited for them. They came past us about 60 m away. Camilla Guarded us almost the entire time - 21 minutes - on sentry duty - and Charged us in short bursts about 3 times. She did not come very far in our direction.

At one point Nómada came over to her and they High-Fived and Open-Mouth to Open-Mouth in what appeared to be a show of support from Nómada. They rumbled with the very deep, flat throbbing rumble that seems to be reserved for confrontations with people. Nómada went away and Camilla (circled) stayed on keeping an eye on us. This video shows some of this behavior shortened from 21 min to under 3 min. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)