Rushing or ‘Running’ toward another elephant predator or other adversary. Also occurs during play. Charges come in many forms. The elephant typically adopts Ear-Folding, Ear-Spreading and Tail-Raising and the Charge may be preceded by a Perpendicular-Walk. The head may be held either high or low; if low the elephant may exhibit a Bow-Neck. The trunk may be stretched out or coiled under, and the elephant may engage in Trunk-Bouncing or Trunk-Dragging or both. The elephant may Trumpet-Blast or remain silent.

While it is tempting to divide Charges into terms like ‘mock-charge’, ‘real-charge’ or ‘serious-charge’, we have learned, through experience, that this is not particularly helpful. While even the most serious of Charging elephants usually stops before tusking a vehicle, sometimes they don’t. Playful Charges are easy to distinguish as they are associated with a more ‘floppy’ appearance and are typically associated with Pulsated-Play-Trumpets or Mock-Charge-Play-Trumpets. Elsewhere we describe a couple of specific Charges (Group-Charge; Bow-Neck-Charge).

All age/sex groups may engaging in Charging.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Poole 1987c; Poole 1996 p75; Langbauer 2000; Kahl & Armstrong 2002; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004; Poole & Granli 2011; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011 [Mock-Charge, Real-Charge]. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Bow-Neck, Bush-Bashing, Ear-Folding, Ear-Spreading, Kick-Dust, Play-Trumpet, Pulsated-Trumpet, Sashay, Tail-Raising, Trumpet-Blast, Trunk-Bounce, Trunk-Bounce-Drag and occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Attacking & Mobbing, Social Play


Context: Aggressive (1)

A group of elephants is feeding in a korongo. We hear some crashing through the bushes and an adolescent male in the suddenly Charges in that direction and Tusks the calf who was near him, Ear-Folding. The calf Roars and nearby elephants Run-Away and someone Trumpets. The male then Charge other elephants.

It is hard to understand what caused the commotion. Later the elephants are frightened by something. We would guess he might have been charging something else and then hit the calf by mistake. The calf could have been trying to steal his food, though, which could explain his annoyance. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)