Turning to present posterior and walking backward toward another or other, often higher-ranking, elephant(s). Back-Toward may be observed when individuals (usually adult/adolescent and juvenile females) attempt to join or move to a more central or advantageous position in a gathered group such as during a Bonding-Ceremony, when Bunching, when joining a Resting group, or when an adolescent female approaches a mother with a newborn. Males may engage in Back-Toward during Social Play with a larger partner.

Back-Toward may sometimes be a gesture of appeasement to avoid an aggressive response by a larger elephant, or, within families, as a signal of respect - such as when joining a Resting group, or, in the case of Bunching it may be a way to keep eyes, ears and tusks pointed toward the perceived threat. All age sex groups may Back-Toward the carcass or bones of a dead elephant.

References: Moss 1988; Moss 1992: 130; Poole 1996: 159; Kahl & Armstrong 2000; Langbauer 2000; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Birth, Calf Reassurance & Protection, Coalition Building, Social Play, Submissive


Context: Coalition Building (1)

The behavior in this clip takes place after a long period when matriarch gf0070 had been reacting apprehensively to our presence and had led her family away from us. She followed the others to a mud wallow. Adult male, Aloisio, gm0040 is there. She turns around and Back-Toward him and then Tail-Swats him repeatedly and deliberately. Why? He is also swatting though it looks to be more for a scratching purpose than at her. She then turns to face us again - Standing-Tall in an apprehensive way. (Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique)


Context: Coalition Building (2)

The clip is of the C family who have just engaged in a Group-Advance on us and then, after much Contemplation by Corajosa, in particular, they decide to depart. Corojosa is in the lead followed by Bullet, gf0152 and 6 calves. They walk about 30 paces and then Freeze and Listen. They stand for some time and then the camera focuses in on Bullet. They take another 10 paces and Corajosa is revealed again. She Back-Toward Bullet. All Freeze again. Corojosa with mouth open. Finally gf0152 Initiate-Movement and they leave. (Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique)


Context: Coalition Building (3)

Mama Little E is feeding and then hears something or becomes aware of something she appears to be concerned about. Head-Shaking she turns and walks away with Little E. Allomother, Lorato, is alerted and moves quickly toward Mama Little E and Little E using a Back-Toward approach. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Coalition Building (4)

Iphengenia, gf0034, has just Charged our vehicle. She stops and Stands-Tall and then Back-Towards the rest of the family, presumably to initiate Bunching. She stands between gf0048 and gf0049. Iphegenia and gf0049 stand Head-Swinging and Standing-Tall as they confront us. (Gorongosa, Mozambique)