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: 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)