An infant, calf or juvenile Standing or Walking parallel to its mother or other family member, with trunk raised toward or reaching into the other’s mouth; persistent following and reaching and Begging is typically associated with complaining calls such as Begging-Rumbles, Cry-Rumbles and Grumble-Rumbles, etc.

Calves will reach into the mouths of others and Steal-Food. Such behavior is often associated with appeasement tactics by the calf, like Trunk-to-Mouth, Ear-Brushing and/or Social-Rubbing. Infants may reach into the mouths of their mothers and sample food. It has been assumed that this is one way infant elephants learn what to eat. Among older calves and juveniles, such Begging behavior is sometimes rewarded with food being purposefully dropped and shared by the mother (Food-Sharing).

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

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Begging-Rumble, Cry, Cry-Rumble, Ear-Brush, Food-Sharing, Food-Stealing, Grumble-Rumble, Periscope-Trunk, Roar-Rumble, Rumble-Cry-Rumble, Social-Rubbing, Trunk-to-Mouth and occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Foraging & Comfort Technique


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

Nalakite is carrying and eating a branch. Her two sons aged 6 and 10 are walking beside her. The 6 year old is walking away until he gets a sniff of her stick and comes back looking on the ground; Meanwhile, her 10 year old is Soliciting-Food. She drops a bit of stick in an act of Food-Sharing. Neither male notices until later and they both reach into her mouth to Solicit-Food.

Meanwhile her 10 year old Social-Rubs against her and, simultaneously with the 6 year old, Solicits-Food by reaching into her mouth, begging for her stick. She pulls away and Grumble-Rumbles at them in a complaining tone. She purposefully removes another bit of the stick and drops it on the ground, in another act of Food-Sharing, for the 10 year old, who again Social-Rubs against her and picks up the stick she has dropped.

The 6 year male has realised that there is a stick on the ground, but he can't reach it with her legs in the way. She continues to walk forward and he emits a Grumble-Rumble. The six year old still searches the ground blocking his mother's way and then, in his frustration, jabs her with his tusk - the Tusking causing her leg to buckle. She Redirects-Aggression swinging her trunk toward the 10 year old, who, anticipating trouble, emits a Baroo-Rumble. Mum continues to walk and when the 6 year old is behind her she uses a back leg to Kick-Back. He Grumble-Rumbles and comes around behind her to the other side. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (2)

A calf approaches its mother and gives a Begging-Rumble but is begging for food rather than the breast. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (3)

Tailless calf Solicits-Food from her mother, Ear-Brushing against her and reaching Trunk-to-Mouth. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (4)

Grumpy Grandma (f0412) is browsing on a bush. Her adolescent daughter V-Notch reaches Trunk-to-Mouth to her mother in a Conciliatory gesture to solicit sharing food. Grumpy Grandma responds by Tusking her away. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (5)

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 Trunk-to-Mouth Soliciting-Food. f0116 drops a piece - 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 the calf to the stick. 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)