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)