Twisting the distal portion or tip of the trunk back and forth. Most often observed in situations where an elephant is apprehensive or unsure of what action to take.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Poole 1999a; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011 [Trunk wrap]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Ambivalent, Attentive


Context: Ambivalent (1)

A 4 year old male calf from the C family is walking along and then pauses as if considering something. He turns around and goes back some distance and then begins Trunk-Twisting. He turns again and continues on taking a slightly different course. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Ambivalent (2)

A family group of elephants is standing in the shade of a tree resting. The two elephants on the right begin Trunk-Twisting and blowing out of their trunks. They are listening to the filmmakers speaking, but they seem concerned by something on the ground as the adult female can also be seen to point her Trunk-Toward something there. It almost seems as if there is something (a biting insect, a scorpion, perhaps?) that is causing them to feel uncomfortable and react this way. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalent (3)

Two families of elephants have arrived at Olonginye Swamp in Amboseli. One family is moving past our car to the right, while the other family begins to drink. There are more elephants out of sight including a high-ranking female.

There has been a slight altercation which has caused unease between the two families and a young female displays ambivalent behavior in the form of Trunk-Twisting and Foot-Swinging. She also sniffs the ground as if searching for information. Then she walks away while Looking-Back, joining a Waiting female who we believe is her mother. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Ambivalent (4)

Paolo is in musth and is heading toward Longinye Swamp along a trail. He is Tracking and is occasionally engaging in Trunk-Twisting. We guess that he may be on the trail of another musth male. (Amboseli, Kenya)