An aggressor lowers the head by bowing the neck downward and simultaneously tilting the head upward so that the tusks are approximately horizontal and Advances-Toward a rival or other threat. The Bow-Neck-Advance-Toward may be associated with Ear-Slapping and/or Ear-Folding. This posture is typically held at a fast walk and is used especially when the receiver is of smaller stature than the aggressor. In a sense the aggressor brings head/tusks down to the victim's level. It is one of the more common forms of high-level aggression between females of different families or toward young, pesky non-family males and may be seen as a component of a Coalition. It may also be directed at non-elephant threats. It is adopted primarily by adult females in Aggressive or Mobbing & Attacking contexts and by elephants of all age/sex groups in Social Play contexts. It is reminiscent of the “Forward Threat Display” of geese.

References: Moss 1988; Poole 1996; Kahl & Armstrong, 2000; Poole & Granli 2011 [Bow-Neck]. (Full reference list)

This behavioral constellation includes the following behaviors: Advance-Toward, Bow-Neck, Ear-Folding, Ear-Slap and occurs in the following context(s): Aggressive, Attacking & Mobbing


Context: Aggressive (1)

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)