A powerful, relatively long and seemingly sustained, Trumpet lasting 1-1.5 seconds in duration produced when an elephant or group of elephants confronts a predator, or other perceived threat. An individual may Advance-Toward or Charge while Trumpeting. Referred to as a Trumpet-Blast these calls are intended to intimidate, and, typically, Charges that are associated with them end abruptly. Yet, in our experience, it is wise not to assume that a Trumpeting and Charging elephant will not make good her threat.

Cavorting elephants Charging at or Running-After other species during Social Play (such as rabbits, hyenas, wildebeests, monkeys, or the human observer) typically Trumpet-Blast, too. While such Trumpets produced in the two contexts are similar, those produced when confronting a serious threat are more powerful and it is certainly possible to hear a difference between the two contexts. We previously called those produced during play Mock-Charge-Play-Trumpets (Poole, 2011).

References: Poole & Granli 2004; Poole 2011 [including Mock-Charge-Play-Trumpet]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Attacking & Mobbing, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Social Play


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (1)

We are driving along the Urema Road when we meet the V family. We hear Trumpet-Blasts and see elephants Charging at us through the trees (The trumpet-blast that is shrill is made by a calf). We stop.

Tuskless female, Valda, stands Head-Swinging and Foot-Lifting. Then she begins a Perpendicular-Walk, which appears to be a signal for one-tusked Vigilante to Charge. Vigilante Charges, pauses and Charges again and the others join her in a Group-Charge. There are two Trumpet-Blasts when Vigilante Charges. It is possible to hear the age difference in the frequency of the trumpet. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (2)

Matriarch gf0073 and her family are in the forest as we drive up. This is the first time we have encountered this family and they are very agitated, Bunching and Standing-Tall. Matriarch gf0073 Charges and comes very close to the car. The family comes out of the forest in a Group-Advance and giving Trumpet-Blasts. They back away and continue to confront us, Trumpet-Blasting. Then we hear low rumbling and most of the family returns to the forest.

gf0073 enters the scene from the right doing a Perpendicular-Walk and we hear a rumble. She takes 12 perpendicular steps before she adds a Bow-Neck, turns and begins a silent Bow-Neck-Charge. She Trunk-Drag-Bounce as she comes closer. She runs 10 paces toward us in the Bow-Neck posture. She Sashays as she reach within a couple meters of the car. The video and audio are difficult to include as she almost hits the vehicle. The others come back from the forest giving Trumpet-Blasts. Finally they turn and all return to the forest. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (3)

Matriarch gf0073 and her family are in the forest as we drove up. This is the first time encounter with this family and they are very agitated, Bunching and Standing-Tall. gf0073 has done a Perpendicular-Walk and gave us a very serious Charge and then they all retreated to the forest.

As this clip begins we were departing and gf0073 Charges from the forest at high speed. The video is very shaky but we can see her Trunk-Bounce, Stand-Tall, and then as she begins to Charge again - she Trunk-Bounces with the underside of her trunk. She gives several Trumpet-Blasts.

At the end of the video we can see that the rest of the family is joining her. She chased us a good 600 m with the others following behind. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (4)

At the end of the day a family arrives, joining the Mabenzis and many others. The matriarch, gf0061, was an elephant we recognized due to a gaping tear in her ear, but we did not have good ID photos of her and her family. We decided to drive a little closer so that we could take some.

As the clip starts we are driving toward the family. When we are a good 80 meters away a large adult female we later named, Ambuscadora, comes like a rocket from the forest in a Charge. We turn and drive away. She gives several Trumpet-Blasts as she chases us. The first time she pauses, perhaps so as not to hit us, she leaves her hind legs stiffly out behind her and drags them along the ground to stop.

As we drive away she Charges again and gives a beautiful, audible Trunk-Bounce. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (5)

We saw one male, gm0131, but from the air Matavele saw 3 males around us. We first saw him on Picada 1 where he rushed across the road in a panic as Matavele took off. Later we met him on the other side of the Sand Forest. We followed him a ways off the road and that led us to other groups. He Stood-Tall, Displacement-Dusting and Charged us, though not seriously. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (6)

This clip is taken from a longer sequence of behavior of the I family. As the clip starts matriarch iJunia, gf0005, has slowed her Charge to a Bow-Neck-Advance-Toward. She takes the lead with Isabella, gf0038, by her side and a tiny baby in tow. Someone gives a Trumpet-Blast and iJunia Head-Dips. They stop near us and Isabella reaches Trunk-to-Mouth to iJunia. They Bunch facing us Standing-Tall and Head-Swinging and iJunia Head-Dip-Touch-Ground. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (7)

Provocadora Charges at us and we drive away. As she Charges she gives a Trumpet-Blast followed by a Pulsated-Trumpet. When she stops, we stop. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (8)

As part of a long Group-Charge Marcella, gf0017, takes over from Mwana Nzo, gf0016. Here she is in full Charge. Notice how she raises her Head-High and lowers it. When her head is lowered she engages in Trunk-Bounce-Drag. She Trumpet-Blasts twice and as we pull away and she slows and Head-Dip-Touch-Ground twice. Her Charge is replaced by Valente, gf0012. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (9)

We are with a large aggregation of several families - perhaps 60 elephants. The group became alarmed when we arrived as they were caught out in the open. They began moving in a purposeful way almost as if in a Perpendicular-Walk - about 100 m from us. A one-tusked female gf0151 (circled) was in the lead. She disappeared out of view and then the others stopped Waiting and Listening. Obviously gf0151 must have gone ahead and then turned on us because suddenly she was coming for us from a completely different angle.

You can here Joyce swear as she realizes she is Charging and we hear gf0151 crash through the vegetation and Trumpet-Blast before the camera is able to turn and catch up with her. She gave another two Trumpet-Blasts Standing-Tall. Then she walked away and then Pirouetted and Backed-Toward the Bunching group. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Attacking & Mobbing (10)

A sub-section of the C family is crossing the track behind us. We have been observing them for a while and they have been very vigilant Listening and Head-Swinging. Nomada crosses first but is rather unsure - she stands looking at us, Chin-Up and Ears-Spread. She Backs-Toward the others who are still on the other side of the track. She Reach-Touch Corajosa, as if to get her attention and, we believe, her assistance. Corajosa Rapid-Ear-Flaps and Rumbles. Nomada turns to cross the track again with calves in tow and turns to face us with Ears-Spread. Corajosa then comes from the bushes on the left, and Sashays across the road. We hear more deep Rumbling. She Kicks-Dust and Charges with her Head-Low. She gives a Trumpet-Blast and does a Trunk-Bounce with her chopped trunk at then end of her Charge. Someone else also Trumpets and we hear more Rumbling. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)