Holding a clump of stubble (typically grass that has been grazed close to the ground by other herbivores) with the fingers of the trunk and rubbing the stubble against the ridges on the underside of the trunk to remove the soil clinging to its roots. Alternatively, holding the stubble in the fingers and rubbing it against the chest, between the fore-legs. The former is a technique that takes experience to perfect. It is regularly employed in the dry season by adults, but we are not sure at what age it is acquired. This technique may also be used with longer grass that is uprooted with soil or dust clinging to the roots.

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

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Foraging & Comfort Technique


Context: Foraging & Comfort Technique (1)

Young male, gm0006, is feeding on grass. He grasps a clump in his trunk and then rubs it and flicks it against the underside of his trunk to remove the excess dirt before putting it into his mouth. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Foraging & Comfort Technique (2)

Arora B comes up to the car and listens to us speaking to her. She is feeding on Sporobolus spicatus. As this species begins to dry out, the Amboseli elephants first kick it with their feet and then rub the clump against the underside of their trunk to remove the dirt before putting it in their mouths. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Foraging & Comfort Technique (3)

An adult male is using his foreleg to kick at the grass and simultaneously gathering or scooping up the loosened stems or clumps in his trunk. When he has gathered a suitable amount he uses a Sweep-off-Dirt and a Rub-off-Dirt technique before putting the trunkful in his mouth. (Amboseli, Kenya)