Elephants are well-known for their complex social and emotional behaviour, and just like humans, these phenomenal mammals can form lifelong relationships. Every elephant has its own set of personality traits and characteristics, which always makes for interesting viewing when in the bush, and despite having seen thousands of elephants before, Peace Parks Foundation’s former Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area Manager, Gordon Homer, always enjoys watching the complexities of elephant behaviour unfold.

While with his family on the beautiful Nampene Island, situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, Gordon gets to witness the fascinating dynamics play out between adult elephants and some young, feisty bulls.

Like any family, there are always complications that arise, such as youngsters acting out, teenagers fighting, or disagreements between the group elders, but typically, and with help from the matriarch, all is resolved, and peace is restored.

Today, however, the peace has been disturbed!

While a herd of elephants are visiting a popular watering hole for a drink, some irritable adolescent males start pushing the females and youngsters away in an attempt to assert their dominance and establish a ‘drinking hierarchy’.

This can be typical elephant behaviour seen during the dry season when water sources are scarce, as the watering hole is often the main object of attraction and competition for most animals. This is particularly the case for water-dependent species such as elephant who drink up to 200 litres a day, and it’s not unusual to see younger, more hormonally charged males act up, as seen in the video above.

Like many mammals, male and female elephants exhibit very different behaviours, but luckily the herd, which is made up of related females and their offspring, are dependent on each other for protection, survival and emotional connections, all of which are important when dealing with ill-tempered bulls such as these.

Peace Parks Foundation recognises how important it is to protect these incredible animals so that future generations will be able to enjoy sights like these in nature, decades from now.