Reaching of the trunk to touch, or near touch the temporal gland of another typically in a Social Play or Affiliative context. This behavior is often observed during Sparring and following meeting/greeting of individuals. Elephants are very tactile animals with a tremendously perceptive sense of smell. More research is required to fully understand why elephants touch different parts of the faces of other elephants.

References: Poole 1982: 37 illustration; Rasmussen & Wittemyer 2002; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004, Poole & Granli 2011 [Test-Temporal-Glands]; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011 [Trunk to head & Trunk to temporal glands]. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Social Play


Context: Affiliative (1)

Two young males come together and greet one another. The arriving male greets the one with the collar Trunk-to-Mouth. The one with the collar greets the arriving male Trunk-to-Temporal-Glands and then Trunk-to-Genitals x 3. A third male arrives and the camera zooms in. The first two males continue to greet one another; the collared male male reaches Trunk-to-Temporal-Glands again and again and then pauses in a Circus-Pose before reaching Trunk-to-Temporal-Glands and Trunk-to-Mouth to the second male. There is no audio. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)