Two or more related (usually adult) females engaging in a sequence of relatively flat, low-pitched, tonal rumbles of moderate intensity and long duration (~5-6 seconds) that have the cadence of a conversation, rising and falling, as first one individual and then another contributes her voice. Additional females may join the initiating individuals. This pattern of Rumbling is most often heard as a series of two or three slightly overlapping or closely adjacent calls followed by a pause before again calling. The interchange may last several minutes or up to an hour. The pattern of vocal exchange has such a cadence of conversation (in particular what sounds like a higher pitch/lower pitch exchanges by different individuals) that we refer to this as a Cadenced-Rumble.

Adult females appear to use Cadenced-Rumbling to ‘lend their voice’ to a proposed plan of action, usually, it seems, regarding where to go and when to depart. The calls that make up the ‘conversation’ are similar in structure to the ‘Let’s-Go’-Rumble, but, unlike the ‘Let’s-Go’, we have been unable to detect any particular axis of the body that would indicate directionality. In fact, the call is unusual in that the vocalizing females continue to feed (or whatever activity they were engaged in) without looking up or showing any particularly attentive behavior. We have heard elephants from four years of age and upwards (including juvenile, though not adult, males) participate, in such bouts of calling.

References: Poole 1996: 143, 144 [Discussion-Rumble]; Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Movement, Space & Leadership


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (1)

Mama Little E is standing to the left of a tree and Little E is trying to Suckle. A young female approaches from the left and they engage in a Little-Greeting - Head-Raising and Ear-Lifting and Little-Greeting-Rumbles. A third female at the back right joins in the Little-Greeting and we hear her Trumpet-Rumble.

Note that the approaching female touches Little E. After this the Rumbling continues but taking on the tone of Cadenced-Calling. It is not possible to tell how if doing the Cadenced-Rumbling as this type of calling is not associated with clear Ear-Flapping. Several calls take place as the elephants are moving and feeding and as matriarch Grumpy Grandma arrives with the others. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (2)

This is a difficult clip with rather poor quality sound and some talking by the filmmakers, but we have included it due to the classic calling pattern and behavior. As Grumpy Grandmas family are on the move at the end of the day Cadenced-Calling begins with several individuals participating. It is not clear what they are talking about but we can surmise it may have to do with where they are going. Grumpy Grandma brings up the rear and we do not see her engage in the conversation. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (3)

This is a very long clip that begins with a Greeting between Gina (right) and Carolyn (left). Unfortunately, the beginning is cut off, but Gina is Rumbling and Carolyn gives loud throaty Greeting-Rumble type response with an Open-Mouth. They engage in Rapid-Ear-Flapping and reach out to one another with a Reciprocal-Trunk-to-Mouth. Gina continues to reach toward Carolyn who Orients-Away while still Rumbling and Rapid-Ear-Flapping. Carolyn Kicks-Dust as she turns. Then she and Gina, and then predominately Carolyn with a few others joining in intermittently, begin a series of Rumbles over the course of at least the next 11 minutes. These appear in tone and associated behavior to be Cadenced-Rumbles.

Carolyn and the other participants continue with their various activities - browsing, mudsplashing, walking - as they give the deep reverberating calls. Eventually, Pat Derby joins the group. As she approaches she and a younger female Little Greeting. Others join the Little Greeting with her too, but these calls also have Cadenced-Rumble quality.

We cannot say what the Cadenced-Calling was about, but as often is the case, it was associated with a family coming together and we surmise that Carolyn was trying to engage the others in some plan. Unlike other Cadenced-Rumble incidents we have observed there was less engagement by others. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Movement Space & Leadership (4)

A section of the A family led by Angelina is Walking slowly along the edge of Enkongo Narok swamp. We were only with them for a short period so do not know what they were discussing, however, this occurred on 26/01/2020 and Angelina gave birth to her first of calf of twins on 06/02 and the second likely on 09/02. We included this clip also to show her appearance - a week before giving birth to twins. (Amboseli, Kenya)