Exclusive Video – The Bulls (#5)

Thank you for adopting the DZANGA BULLS!

The following are exclusive videos of Dzanga’s Bulls, recorded by Andrea Turkalo at Dzanga.
(There is sound, of course, so best viewed with your headphones on.)


Hilton is a massive mature male who dominates any other male present in the bai, unless that other male is in musth and Hilton is not. Notice as Hilton walks through the bai he is constantly testing the air and the soil surface for pheromones that would indicate the presence of a female near or in estrous. Others are wary, males and females both. In this video Hilton is not in musth, but look at the difference in size compared to the others in the bai this afternoon!


Two fully adult males, both in the state of musth, really fight it out. This sort of intensity is not often seen, even in the much more easily viewed savannah elephant, and has been rarely seen in forest elephants.

The likely instigation for this fight, a female in estrous, moves into the frame from the left at time marker 01:43, with a young male in hot pursuit. It is very common for subordinant males to ‘sneak’ copulations when a musth male is busy defending access. In this video you can see the young male begin his mount a few seconds after they come into the frame. Again at time marker 02:06 you see the same young male trying to copulate, but the attempt is interrupted by one of the males in musth.


Frankie demonstrates the dexterity of an elephant’s trunk as he pulls small mouthfuls of grass from a flooded depression. With each piece he splashes the roots back and forth in the water to remove the dirt before popping it into his mouth.


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Basil (on the right), here only nine years old, is only a year older than Elvira II and of similar body size, but easily dominates her. Although males and females increase in height and body mass about equally until about 15 years of age, males can dominate even adult females once they reach 9 or 10 years.


Caligula seems bothered by the flies today, tossing mud onto his back and using his feet to scratch at his opposite leg and belly. It is a little surprising that he is not bothering the forest buffalo lounging in the pools next to him – often males chase off other species, seemingly for the fun of it.


An interesting example of female-female dominance and how males can influence interactions.

At the start of this sequence, AidaII, who is in estrous, is standing near Thick Right, an adult bull in musth. She then walks toward a mineral pit where the Dorkus family is drinking. An interesting testing sequence ensues with lots of smelling with extended trunks – very likely more elaborate than might be typical because AidaII is in estrous. But in the end, Dorcus resumes possession of the mineral pit and AidaII backs off. All of this time Thick Right mostly stands quietly, contemplating who knows what.

As the video continues, AidaII begins to walk north and Thick Right immediately follows her – typical of a male guarding a fertile female. But once AidaII goes a few dozen meters, she turns around again and starts back toward Dorkus. Notice that AidaII is flapping her ears quite frequently as she leaves Thick Right – ear-flapping often accompanies rumble vocalizations. Is AidaII trying to make sure that Thick Right is paying attention?

Eventually the male does move in her direction, and it is interesting that until this point in the sequence, AidaII was keeping a bit of distance from Dorkus. But once Thick Right is on his way, Dorkus becomes alert and stops drinking, AidaII moves closer to the pit, and as Thick Right gets close, Dorkus gives up possession of the pit and AidaII gets what she wanted all along.


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