Lifting and holding the trunk up in an S-shape. This posture is used in many contexts: Most well-known is the apparent adoption of this stance to detect scents carried on the wind, including, for instance, rain or predators. In this Attentive context Periscope-Trunk is particularly used when meeting strangers, potential dangers or if additional information is required. The assumption has long been that this is a form of sniffing (and originally referred to as Periscope-Sniffing), though we believe that it is also a signal - as in a ‘pay attention’ or ‘heads up.’

An exaggerated form of Periscope-Trunk referred to as a Trunk-Sweep is further used in Defensive situations as lead individuals appear to use the sweeping movement to galvanise members of their group into a Coalition to confront a threat. The adoption of Periscope-Trunk is also observed in Aggressive/Submissive, Social Play or other expectant situations, as an individual pauses with the trunk up in a periscope or S-shape waiting for a partner's next move. In this context it was first named ‘Distant-Frontal-Attitude’.

As two individuals approach one another with intent to Spar, or intent to Duel, one or both may raise the trunk above the head and curl the tip toward the other individual. In a Calf Nutrition & Weaning context, calves adopt this posture as they approach their mothers to Solicit-Suckling. This behavior is observed in all age sex groups except Calf Nutrition & Weaning in which restricted to infants, calves and juveniles.

References: Kühme 1961; Kühme 1963 [Distant- Frontal-Attitude]; Rasmussen & Schulte 1998; Poole 1987b; Poole, 1996: 134; Payne 1998; Rasmussen 1998; Poole 1999a; Rasmussen 1999a Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004 [Distant-Frontal-Attitude & Periscope-Sniff]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Attentive, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Coalition Building, Social Play, Submissive, Vigilance


Context: Submissive (1)

Five medium and small adult males are following an estrous female. A larger male arrives and the oldest of the initial group of males Orients-Toward and Advances-Toward him with Periscope-Trunk. The newcomer also Advances-Toward and Ear-Folds. After assessing the situation the smaller male Orients-Away and Retreats-From. The new male continues to Ear-Fold and then reaches Trunk-to-Genitals to the male he has been threatening. He continues past him and tests the estrous female with another Trunk-to-Genitals. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Submissive (2)

Tee-Jay and Gordon, both in musth, have been engaged in an Escalated-Contest. But when Paolo, also in musth, appears they turn to look at him in anticipation. When Paolo is about 50 m away both males turn to face him, Waiting for him with some visible apprehension. Gordon is Foot-Lifting and holds his trunk under. Paolo walks toward them with Head-High, Chin-In in a very dominant posture while Tee-Jay's bravado has changed and he Waits for Paolo with Trunk-Toward and his chin further out than earlier. Paolo continues to Advance-Toward them and at about 3 m Tee-Jay Backs-Away. Both males reach Periscope-Trunks toward Paolo and Retreat-From. Paolo's arrival breaks up the fight, whether purposefully or not. (Amboseli, Kenya)