Using the tail to forcefully swat or hit an elephant behind it to indicate that the elephant should back off, tap an elephant to ask for its attention, or to gently check what is behind it. In rare cases using the tail to forcefully swat or hit an inanimate object like a tree. In Movement Space & Leadership and Social Play contexts all age/sex groups except infants may be observed to Tail-Swat; in a Calf Reassurance & Protection context both adult and adolescent females Tail-Swat; in a Calf Nourishment & Weaning context adult females Tail-Swat, while estrous females Tail-Swat in a Courtship context.

References: Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011 [Tail to body]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Calf Nourishment & Weaning, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Courtship, Foraging & Comfort Technique, Movement, Space & Leadership, Novel & Idiosyncratic, Social Play, Submissive


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (1)

The scene shows members of the C family who are in the company of tuskless adult female Nómada, gf0003. A tuskless juvenile female with her is walking toward the camera followed by a 6 month old female calf. She uses her tail - Tail-Swatting - to monitor the location and of the calf.

The calf lies down on the ground on a termite mound and as she gets up the juvenile female again uses Tail-Swatting to check that the calf is OK. As the calf runs up alongside her, she reaches her trunk back Trunk-to-Face to again reassure the calf. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Calf Reassurance & Protection (2)

Big Mama is browsing and her calf is dozing leaning her head against Big Mama's hind leg. Big Mama pauses as if sniffing back to her calf for a moment before taking another trunkful. Then about to take a step forward she gives her calf a gentle Tail-Swat which seems to have alerted the calf to impending movement. The calf follows her mother as Big Mama tries another Tail-Swat. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)