Kicking back with the hind legs to push another individual or object away. This action may be seen in a number of contexts. For example: A mother to a begging calf she is trying to wean or to one who is repeatedly Soliciting-Food; an elephant kicking back at an object behind it that it is playing with; an estrus female trying to dislodge a Mounted male; an elephant trying to force away an elephant he or she feel is too close behind.

During play this action may be repeated for long periods as the elephant plays with an object of interest. Very often these are man-made objects (e.g. paper bag, flip-canister, flip-flop, tin can, piece of cloth) that an elephant finds in his environment, but a log or stick may make any equally good, though perhaps not so engaging ‘toy’. Youngsters may Queue-Up for a chance to play with such an object. Kick-Back occurs in all age/sex groups except in the context of Calf Nourishment and Weaning when it is only exhibited by adult females.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: 114; Lee 1987; Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Moss 1988; Poole 1996: 151; Poole 1998; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004, Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Courtship, Lone & Object Play, Movement, Space & Leadership, Social Play


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (1)

Walli is feeding on grass with two calves by her side, a newborn and a 5 year old male. The selection starts with the older calf exhibiting Solicit-Suckling and begging with a Suckle-Rumble. Just as he manages to Suckle, Walli moves forward, pushing her body into him (Nudge) in a Reject-Suck and he is thwarted.

Meanwhile the infant also Solicit-Suckling on her other side, but just as she begins Suckling (Double-Suckling), Walli moves forward. The infant runs forward between her legs and she uses front foot to try to guide it back. She again walks forward blocking the five year old male and he complains. Then she slightly Kicks-Back - swinging her back leg out at him unsuccessfully.

The male tries again (Suckle-Rumble and Cry-Rumble) and she stops and both suckle (Double-Suckle) - briefly because she then uses both front and hind leg to Kick-Back and he gives a Cry-Rumble. She walks on and the 5 year male runs around the back and tries to access form the other side. The newborn sees that male coming and gives a couple of Husky-Cries and Run-Away. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (2)

Walli is feeding on Faidherbia drepanolobium while her two calves, a newborn female and a 5 year old male are trying to Double-Suckle. Unusually, Walli has not weaned her older male calf and he appears to be jealous of his younger sister.

Walli is standing so as to block the 5 year old from access to her breast (Reject-Suck) and then uses her body and her hind foot to try to stop him (Kick-Back). Finally she tries backing up. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (3)

In the background through the bushes we can see Ruby facing away from the camera. Her 6 year old male is trying to Suckle - Pushing hard against her and complaining with Suckle or Grumble-Rumble calls and a Cry-Rumble. Ruby has another 1 year old calf and is still trying to wean the 6 year old. She Kicks-Back at him to try to stop him. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Calf Nourishment & Weaning (4)

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 Solicit-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 drop it on the ground, in another act of Food-Sharing, for the 10 year old, who again Social-Rub against her and picks up the stick she has dropped.

Meanwhile, the 6 year male has realized 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 Grumble-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 where he tries again. She gives him a Head-Swing and he Grumble-Rumbles. The older male clears out of the way. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (1)

A 4 year old calf hurries toward a young male who has a large branch and tries to Steal-Food. Note that this is the 3rd calf who has come rapidly this way. The male turns away dragging the branch with him and the calf attempts to Steal-Food again. The male takes a few more steps and the calf gives up, finding that the male has left some of the branchlets behind the calf goes behind the male. The male uses his tail and hind foot to Kick-Back and Tail-Swat at the calf. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (2)

Little E is 3 days old. He goes exploring and meets an uncle, a 7 year old family male. The little male reaches his Trunk-Toward Little E and then walks away. Little E follows and the boy tries using his foot to Kick-Back (x2). On the second Kick-Back Little E almost falls over and emits a little squeak - Husky-Cry although can't hear well due to wind. He looks confused and stands for a moment as the boy Kicks-Back at the air. Little E doesn't get the message and follows him again.

Little E begins sniffing the boy's back end which alarms the boy and he Kicks-Back a 4th time. Luckily Mama Little E and Lorato come to the rescue, both reaching to touch Little E Trunk-to-Genitals. Little E persists, however, exploring between the boys back legs with his trunk, where upon the boy Kicks-Back again, almost knocking Little E over. Lorato put her trunk around him (Trunk-to-Body) and then walks between Little E and the boy in what appears to be an act of Allomother-Intervention. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (3)

Little E is 6 days old. Latino is feeding next to Mama Little E and Little E wanders over and begins sniffing around her back end. She Kicks-Back almost knocking him over. Immediately, as this is happening, Latino's son, an 18 month old comes in with his ears forward in an aggressive posture Pushing Little E. He clearly didn't want him near his mother.

A fool for punishment, Little E tries again and the 18 month old Pushes him again. Then he reaches out Trunk-to-Genitals in a possible act of Conciliation We can't tell if there are any vocalizations due to the wind. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (4)

Grumpy Grandma, f0412, and family are with another family browsing. Lorato is moving in on a female of her same age who Kicks-Back to try to keep Lorato away. Lorato pushes through and the female Orients-Away and uses Tail-Swatting to monitor where Lorato is. Lorato continues and then goes to test the genitals (Trunk-to-Genitals) of f0311 who also Kicks-Back and Tail-Swats at Lorato. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (5)

Little E is 10 days old. He sees matriarch, Grumpy Grandma, f0412, and walks eagerly over to her. She feels him behind her and kicks him away with a Kick-Back and begins Tail-Swatting, hitting Mama Little E as she comes to retrieve Little E.

We hear someone give a very low Rumble and see Grumpy Grandma Ear-Flapping. Mama reaches Trunk-to-Genitals and then Trunk-to-Mouth to little E who gives two Husky-Cries in quick succession. Mama Little E responds with a Coo-Rumble to Little E and reaches Trunk-to-Mouth again Guiding him back to her. He gives a third Husky-Cry. His mother seems to use her trunk-tip over his mouth. f0412 continues to Tail-Swat. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (6)

Annelies of the ABDC family has a newborn who is having difficult getting across the ditches along the road. Annelies is being helped by a couple of allomothers, but is in the midst of a larger aggregation with the MBs who are not totally friendly. Something happens on the road between Annelies and Maria, we think, and Annelies steps forward away from her infant and with Open-Mouth gives what seems to be a Baroo-Rumble. Then Maria comes forward Ear-Folding and there are a couple of Alarm-Trumpets, likely from the allomothers. Annelies steps back to Retrieve her infant joining the two allomothers.

Meanwhile Maria Kicks-Back toward the infant. Mother and allomothers touch the infant with their trunks and one allomother Urinates. Another MB female is sniffing the infant from behind and the Head-Shakes. As Annelies Shepherds her infant off the road another two MB females step up onto the road behind them. There is a Trumpet. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (7)

A family is standing along KH4 waterhole Waiting for other members of their family to catch up. A juvenile female is touching or sniffing at a juvenile male who doesn't like it. He Kicks-Back at her in an exaggerated fashion, but she seems to persist. The two are obscured from view as the family starts to move toward another group on the other side of the swamp. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (8)

Angelina is with her infant twins and some allomothers and is waiting at the swamp edge to swim back over to the west side. A medium sized male is with them and one of the twins is trying to Suckle from him - searching around his back legs with its trunk. The male Kicks-Back at it, but the infant tries again. He Kicks-Back again as Angelina uses her trunk to draw the infant toward her and away from trouble. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (9)

Angelina has just walked off with the female twin and the male is with Abra's 2 year old calf who seems to be looking after him. When he runs toward Abra she Kick-Back at him. This behavior is typical of non-mother lactating females. While Abra is very attentive to the twins, helping significantly, they must learn to Suckle from the correct mother. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (10)

Qoral has a newborn infant and Qasima's 10 year old daughter Qaskasi wants to be close to it all the time. Qoral is not very happy about this and keeps trying to keep her away. In this clip Qaskasi Backs-Toward Qoral and gives her a couple of Body-Nudges with her rump. Qoral backs up as if to block her, though this is very subtle. The Qoral very clearly Body-Nudges her away. Qaskasi begins to Tail-Swat her and Qoral Tail-Swats her back. Kaskazi Tail-Swats her again and then Kicks-Back at her. Qoral responds with an exaggerated Kick-Back. Qaskasi moves a little away and Waits. She begins to Tail-Swat again. And then Backs-Toward Qoral again still Tail-Swatting. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (1)

A group of calves is playing together. A four year old male is lying on the ground, having knelt down - as has another behind him. An older female arrives and stands over his head. The male lying down begins to Kick-Back at the calves touching and leaning on him. The adolescent female steps away and then returns - Backing-Toward him and then playfully engaging with him by touching and gently Kicking-Back at him with her hind feet. The calf gets to his feet and the family moves on. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (2)

Two adolescent males are playing. The one behind is Pushing and Tusking the one in front. The male in front Kicks-Back at the one behind. The male in front Runs-Away while the male behind Run-After. Catching him the pursuer Tusks him several times and forces him down, whereupon he pins him down by standing on his leg! He Reaches-Over as if to mount the trapped male, but he manages to get up and get away. The game begins again. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Social Play (3)

Two adolescent males are engaged in a rough bout of Sparring in which one forces the other back. The loser turns away and Rump-Presents while the winner Reaches-Over his back. Notice the loser engages in Kick-Back to try to rid himself of the other male. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Social Play (4)

One adolescent male approaches another from the right and reaches Trunk-to-Genitals. After he does so the male on the left Kicks-Back at him. Then he Orients-Towards him and they reach Trunk-to-Mouth before beginning a Sparring match. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Social Play (5)

Two calves are at play. The older calf turns away and Kicks-Back at the younger calf. Then Orients-Toward the younger calf again and they Push one another and the older calf Grasp-Trunk x 2. In the next scene they become rougher and the 5 year old female on the left intervenes to break it up (Allomother-Intervention). (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Courtship (1)

Pascal is in musth and Amparo is in estrus and they are in Consort. This is the 4th day that she is in estrus and she is at her peak. Amparo cooperates and shows she is ready by Backing-Toward Pascal. She Stands-to-Mate. Pascal steps back and forth shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he prepares to lift himself onto his hind legs and Dram Rumbles again. Pascal mounts and appears to achieve intromission on the 5th thrust.

As he enters her he raises up and we can see that Amparo appears to be lifted up by his penis - we see her Kick-Back with first one leg and then the other as she seems to be almost standing on her toes - her hind legs out-stretched. Pascal remains inside her for 29 seconds and the other males mill around them. As he begins to dismount we hear the Open-Mouth Rumbling starts in earnest - first by tuskless Dram and then Amparo begins her Open-Mouthed Estrus-Rumbling. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Courtship (2)

Pascal is in musth, Amparo is in estrus and they are in a Consortship. This is the 4th day that she is in estrus and she is at her peak. They have just Mated and Amparo sticks close to her consort. A young male reaches Trunk-to-Genitals and she Kicks-Back at him a few times and Tail-Swats at him and then steps forward to get him away from her. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Courtship (3)

Pascal is in musth and Qadija is in estrus. Pascal has been Guarding her all day. We have seen signs that they are about to Mate. As this clip starts Pascal with a Penis-Erection Pursues Qadija who engages in an Estrous-Walk, Looking-Back. As Pascal gets closer she slows. With an Open-Mouth Pascal Reaches-Over and she Stands-to-Mate. Pascal Mounts her and appears to achieve intromission on the 7th thrust. Rumbling and Rumble-Roar-Rumbles by other family members can be heard.

Qadija Kicks-Back at Pascal and other males gather around them reaching Trunk-Toward them. Pascal is Mounted for 25 seconds and Rumbling by family members continues. As he dismounts Qadija rushes forward and gives an Estrous-Rumble which is answered by Pascal Musth-Rumbling and then another Estrous-Rumble by Qadija who then Head-Shakes. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (1)

Noyeau has a newborn who keeps wandering off to explore. Two allomothers, 2.4 years and less than 2 years are very attentive and keep bringing the infant back to his mother. In this clip the little allomother moves ahead of the wandering infant and uses her feet to gently Kick-Back at him to keep him from moving forward without his mother.. (Amboseli, Kenya)