Rushing or ‘Running’ toward another elephant predator or other adversary. Also occurs during play. Charges come in many forms. The elephant typically adopts Ear-Folding, Ear-Spreading and Tail-Raising and the Charge may be preceded by a Perpendicular-Walk. The head may be held either high or low; if low the elephant may exhibit a Bow-Neck. The trunk may be stretched out or coiled under, and the elephant may engage in Trunk-Bouncing or Trunk-Dragging or both. The elephant may Trumpet-Blast or remain silent.

While it is tempting to divide Charges into terms like ‘mock-charge’, ‘real-charge’ or ‘serious-charge’, we have learned, through experience, that this is not particularly helpful. While even the most serious of Charging elephants usually stops before tusking a vehicle, sometimes they don’t. Playful Charges are easy to distinguish as they are associated with a more ‘floppy’ appearance and are typically associated with Pulsated-Play-Trumpets or Mock-Charge-Play-Trumpets. Elsewhere we describe a couple of specific Charges (Group-Charge; Bow-Neck-Charge).

All age/sex groups may engaging in Charging.

References: Douglas-Hamilton 1972: ch 6; Poole 1987c; Poole 1996 p75; Langbauer 2000; Kahl & Armstrong 2002; Poole & Granli 2003; Poole & Granli 2004; Poole & Granli 2011; O’Connell-Rodwell et al 2011 [Mock-Charge, Real-Charge]. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Bow-Neck, Bush-Bashing, Ear-Folding, Ear-Spreading, Kick-Dust, Play-Trumpet, Pulsated-Trumpet, Sashay, Tail-Raising, Trumpet-Blast, Trunk-Bounce, Trunk-Bounce-Drag and occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Attacking & Mobbing, Social Play


Context: Social Play (1)

An adolescent male Floppy-Runs at the car. He lowers his head (Bow-Neck) and Curls-Trunk-Under and adopts a floppy-bodied Bow-Neck-Charge position and shakes his head from side to side displaying Head-Waggling. As he charges he Play-Trumpets. One of the filmmakers is concerned that this is a real charge so there is a lot of talking. As he runs he Tail-Raises in excitement and as he stops he Kicks-Dust. As he departs he swings his back legs out as if to kick vegetation, but misses. Then he Floppy-Runs off in another direction. (Maasai Mara, Kenya)