Slapping the ears loudly and sharply against the neck and shoulders. In a Movement Space and Leadership and Avoidance context this gestures is typically made by an older female, often the matriarch, who appears to use it to call attention to her location and (changing) activity or movement. In Aggressive, Coalition Building or Attacking & Mobbing contexts, it is used in association with Ear-Folding as an elephant Advances-Toward its adversary.

References: Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Advertisement & Attraction, Aggressive, Avoidance, Coalition Building, Movement, Space & Leadership


Context: Aggressive (1)

A young teenage male is pushing his weight around; he Advances-Toward older female Pat Derby who Retreat-From. He emphasizes that he is serious by Ear-Folding in conjunction with Ear-Slapping. He Ear-Slaps as he follows Pat Derby who is much older than he is. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (2)

A young male (center right) is minding his own business at a water-hole. An adult female approaches and stands next to him (center left); he Orient-Away slightly.

As the clip begins she stands near to him Waiting, and Foot-Lifting. As he Orients-Toward her a little she turns on him, Ramming and Tusking him with an audible sound and then reaching her trunk out at him as he Retreats-From and Looks-Back. She Ear-Folds and Ear-Slaps loudly - dust flying. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (3)

A young male moves through a group Ear-Folding at others. Notice how his Ear-Flapping approaches Ear-Slaps. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)


Context: Aggressive (4)

It is unusual for females to fight with males, but when it occurs it is likely between an adult female and a teenage male and typically when the young male is behaving inappropriately toward her or toward a member of her family.

In this case Ozora is in estrus and being lightly Guarded by Liaqat. A young male, about 15 years old, smaller than her and perhaps 15 years younger, is interested in her and, perhaps frustrated by her lack of interest in him, becomes aggressive. We use the term aggressive Sparring, but if one studies the behavior this is closer to Dueling. Ozora is angry at him Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping and holding her Head-High and Chin-Out. She Backs-Away and he Advances-Toward her. She again Ear-Folds and Ear-Slaps with Head-High and Chin-Out. She Backs-Away again and he presses his advantage. Ozora Lunges at him and they clash and we hear Tusk-Clanks. She Reaches-High, and Lunges at him clashing tusks again. She adopts Circus-Pose and Lunges again then as he Backs-Away she Reaches-High again. She Advances-Toward him Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping as he Backs-Away. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (5)

This is a short section of a close to three hour Escalated-Contest in which an older male intervenes at least 5 times to help the male with the broken tusks. In this last incidence of this behavior the older male enters from the right and immediately the broken tusked male Advances-Toward the longer-tusked male with a very aggressive posture - Open-Mouth, Trunk-Curled-Under as if to bounce or drag, Ears-Folded - he moves rapidly toward the longer-tusked male who Backs-Away 35 paces.

The broken-tusked male continues to Ear-Fold the entire way and as if to emphasize his anger he adds Ear-Slaps to his Ear-Folding. The older male follows them in a lazy sort of way. The broken tusked male is really pushing for a fight and they make contact briefly. But the older male comes up close to them; it is hard to tell but it looks as if he gives the aggressor a slight threat and he appears to Retreat-From. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (6)

There are two estrous females and a musth male in this large aggregation. Several families are meeting and there is a high arousal level. A large adult female Ear-Folds and Ear-Slaps at females from another family. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (7)

The female on the left is in estrus and Guarded by Emo in musth. Other males are present. Another female, with asymmetrical tusks, who is just coming into estrus comes into view from the right and threatens the estrus female first Ear-Folding and then with a Bow-Neck-Advance-Toward which includes a vigorous Head-Dip and audible Ear-Slapping against the side of the body.

The first estrous female Retreats-From and Emo tests the second estrous female Trunk-to-Genitals. She stands for him to test, but then give the first female a Bow-Neck-Charge with Ears-Folded and another vigorous Head-Dip and Ear Slapping against the body. The first female Runs-Away with her calf. A male comes to test the second female and then he goes off after the first female. The second female Rumbles. (Amboseli, Kenya)


Context: Aggressive (8)

Several families are competing over access to a mud-wallow. One female on the right is particularly aggressive toward newcomers who are arriving on the left. She repeatedly Ear-Folds and Ear-Slaps at them. They Look-At her and one or two return the Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping threats. The first female goes to her mother or older female in the family and Ear-Brushes and Social-Rubs against her before returning to Ear-Fold and Ear-Slap at her foes again. (Amboseli, Kenya).


Context: Aggressive (9)

Several families are competing over access to a mud-wallow. A one-tusked female on the left rushes at a female on the right Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping. There is Trumpeting in response to the aggression, but it is not clear by whom. In the background an adult female Tusks a juvenile who Roars. The one-tusked female continues Ear-Folding and comes around the end of the mud-wallow and Runs-After the female Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping who Runs-Away.

A female bystander Head-Shakes in annoyance and there is deep Rumbling. Once we are able to catch up with them she is following at a Walk with an Open-Mouth still Ear-Folding and Ear-Slapping. The fleeing female Defecates. (Amboseli, Kenya).