Exclusive Video – Aida (#5)

Thank you for adopting one of the elephant families from Dzanga Bai!

The following are exclusive videos of Aida and her family, recorded by Andrea Turkalo at Dzanga.
(There is sound, of course, so best viewed with your headphones on.)


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.


Aida and her newborn, Aida IV. Notice How Aida turns carefully so as to not step on the baby, but she is nervous. Notice she is holding her ears high and turns this way and that.

Directly under the platform Aida is investigating the soil surface – often forest elephants will ‘aspirate’ fine soil into the tip of their trunk and then transfer this to their mouth. Here Aida never seems to find what she wants.


Aida II is painted a dusty orange from a dirt bath. She kneels down to extract important minerals from the water.


Aida III is gathering mineral-rich soil by sucking it up into the tip of the trunk and then eating it. We call this ‘aspirating’ soil, a form of geophagy (soil eating).


Thick Right is drinking while AidaII stands by. Notice the difference in their sizes! Thick Right is in musth and, if AidaII is in estrous, she may be taking advantage of the male’s dominance to avoid being harrassed by other males.

Aida II puts her trunk in Thick Right’s mouth (1:00) as he drinks. This seems to be an intimate moment for these two elephants, although exactly what olefactory signals AidaII is detecting this way is unknown.


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