Face-off: Playful Elephant vs. Tense Rhino
African elephants engage in more than 200 different known postures, helping them convey an array of emotions, from aggression to ambivalence. Complex and unfamiliar, elephant behavior can be difficult for human beings to distinguish—which is why recent footage of an African elephant approaching a rhino was initially deemed to be aggressive by many viewers.
The real motivation behind the elephant's actions?
"It was an invitation to play," says Joyce Poole, an expert on elephant behavior, National Geographic explorer, and co-founder of Elephant Voices.
The footage was shot at Kruger National Park in South Africa by visiting tourists. While the approach began innocuously, the rhino's sudden charge startled the elephant, who then responded with a threat to