Like all highly social mammals elephants have a well-developed system of communication that makes use of all of their senses - hearing, smell, vision and touch - including an exceptional ability to detect vibrations.

Acoustic communication takes a look at sound production and hearing in elephants; chemical communication explains how elephants use various secretions and their acute sense of smell to communicate; visual communication looks at how elephants make use of postures and displays and their sense of sight in communication; tactile communication describes how elephants make use of their sense of touch to communicate.

At one end of the spectrum elephants communicate by rubbing their bodies against one another, at the other end they may respond by moving toward the sounds of other elephants calling, perhaps 10 kilometers away. They convey information about their physiological (e.g. sexual/hormonal, body condition, identity) and emotional state (e.g. whether they are fearful, playful, joyful, angry, excited) as well as communicating specific "statements" about their intentions or desires. In this section we look at how elephants use the different pathways of communication and the actual mechanics of communicating.

You will in the fully searchable database The Elephant Ethogram: A Library of African Elephant Behavior find close to 300 fully described elephant sounds with spectrograms, together with 2,400 educational video clips showing categorized elephant behaviors and behavior constellations and hundreds of images. The below slideshow take you through a limited number of the over 400 Behaviors and Behavioral Constellations included in The Elephant Ethogram - click on any image to find further documentation.

  • Trunk-To-Mouth
    Trunk-To-Mouth
  • V8-Rumble
    V8-Rumble
  • Strip-Branch
    Strip-Branch
  • Test-Substrate
    Test-Substrate
  • Head-Raising
    Head-Raising
  • Circus-Pose
    Circus-Pose
  • Bite-Trunk
    Bite-Trunk
  • Bathing
    Bathing
  • Suckle-Stance
    Suckle-Stance
  • Cadenced-Rumble
    Cadenced-Rumble
  • Tracking
    Tracking
  • Nasal-Trumpet
    Nasal-Trumpet
  • Allo-Check-Tusk
    Allo-Check-Tusk
  • As-Touched-Rumble
    As-Touched-Rumble
  • Grasp-Leg
    Grasp-Leg
  • Resting-Trunk
    Resting-Trunk
  • Contact-Rumble
    Contact-Rumble
  • Tail-Swatting
    Tail-Swatting
  • Procession
    Procession
  • Trunk-Twisting
    Trunk-Twisting
  • Kick-Dust
    Kick-Dust
  • Trunk-Twining
    Trunk-Twining
  • Kneel-Down
    Kneel-Down
  • Bow-Neck-Advance-Toward
    Bow-Neck-Advance-Toward
  • Kick-Back
    Kick-Back
  • Musth-Rumble
    Musth-Rumble
  • Trunk-Tuck
    Trunk-Tuck
  • Contemplating
    Contemplating
  • Pulsated-Trumpet
    Pulsated-Trumpet
  • Double-Suckling
    Double-Suckling
  • Tusk-Ground
    Tusk-Ground
  • Husky-Cry
    Husky-Cry
  • Horizontal-Trunk
    Horizontal-Trunk
  • Attain-Higher-Ground
    Attain-Higher-Ground
  • Look-Back
    Look-Back
  • Trunk-Curl-Squeeze-Rip-Grass
    Trunk-Curl-Squeeze-Rip-Grass
  • Sheltering
    Sheltering
  • Bend-Down-Bite-Vegetation
    Bend-Down-Bite-Vegetation
  • Rumble-Roar
    Rumble-Roar
  • Trunk-To-Genitals
    Trunk-To-Genitals
  • Trunk-Dragging
    Trunk-Dragging
  • Rub-Off-Dirt
    Rub-Off-Dirt
  • Perpendicular-Walk
    Perpendicular-Walk
  • Panic-Running
    Panic-Running
  • Standing-Tall
    Standing-Tall
  • Adorn-Body
    Adorn-Body
  • Foot-Forward
    Foot-Forward
  • Casual-Stance
    Casual-Stance
  • Sweep-Off-Dirt
    Sweep-Off-Dirt
  • Female-Chorus-Rumble
    Female-Chorus-Rumble
  • Solicit-Suckling
    Solicit-Suckling
  • Trunk-Sweep
    Trunk-Sweep
  • Trunk-Bounce
    Trunk-Bounce
  • Ear-Folding
    Ear-Folding
  • Listening
    Listening
  • Comment-Rumble
    Comment-Rumble
  • Alarmed-Trumpet
    Alarmed-Trumpet
  • Legs-Crossed
    Legs-Crossed
  • Social-Rubbing
    Social-Rubbing
  • Head-Dip-Touch-Ground
    Head-Dip-Touch-Ground
  • Ear-Spreading
    Ear-Spreading
  • Estrous-Rumble
    Estrous-Rumble
  • Solicit-Food
    Solicit-Food
  • Begging-Rumble
    Begging-Rumble
  • Sniff-Ground
    Sniff-Ground
  • Urine-Dribbling
    Urine-Dribbling
  • Protest-Trumpet
    Protest-Trumpet
  • Open-Mouth
    Open-Mouth
  • Mud-Splashing
    Mud-Splashing
  • Roaring-Rumble
    Roaring-Rumble
  • J-Trunk
    J-Trunk
  • Head-Shaking
    Head-Shaking
  • Grumble-Rumble
    Grumble-Rumble
  • Waiting
    Waiting
  • Estrous-Roar
    Estrous-Roar
  • Rumble-Roar-Rumble
    Rumble-Roar-Rumble
  • Separated-Rumble
    Separated-Rumble
  • Social-Trumpet
    Social-Trumpet
  • Snorkel
    Snorkel
  • Suckle-Face
    Suckle-Face
  • Trunk-To-Infant-At-Breast
    Trunk-To-Infant-At-Breast
  • Ear-Lifting
    Ear-Lifting
  • Bonding-Rumble
    Bonding-Rumble
  • Silly-Trunk
    Silly-Trunk
  • Head-Toss
    Head-Toss
  • Helping
    Helping
  • Purposeful-Walk
    Purposeful-Walk
  • Play-Trumpet
    Play-Trumpet
  • Climb-Upon
    Climb-Upon
  • Sparring
    Sparring
  • Flehmen
    Flehmen
  • Head-Waggling
    Head-Waggling
  • Let's-Go-Rumble
    Let's-Go-Rumble
  • Mud-Wallowing
    Mud-Wallowing
  • Maintain-Proximity
    Maintain-Proximity
  • Roar
    Roar
  • Exaggerated-Walk
    Exaggerated-Walk
  • Solicit-Play
    Solicit-Play
  • Cry-Rumble
    Cry-Rumble
  • Pushing
    Pushing
  • Phalanx
    Phalanx
  • Ear-Waving
    Ear-Waving
  • Yawn
    Yawn
  • Play-Trumpet
    Play-Trumpet
  • Head-Dip
    Head-Dip
  • Touch-Wound
    Touch-Wound
  • Ear-Brush
    Ear-Brush
  • Strip-Bark
    Strip-Bark
  • Chin-Up
    Chin-Up
  • Tusking
    Tusking
  • Rumble-Snort-Rumble
    Rumble-Snort-Rumble
  • Forward-Trunk-Swing
    Forward-Trunk-Swing
  • Rear-Guard
    Rear-Guard
  • Tail-Raising
    Tail-Raising
  • Ear-Secretion
    Ear-Secretion
  • Head-High
    Head-High
  • Guarding
    Guarding
  • Trunk-Sucking
    Trunk-Sucking
  • Coo-Rumble
    Coo-Rumble
  • Little-Greeting
    Little-Greeting
  • Shepherding
    Shepherding
  • Dusting
    Dusting
  • Trumpet-Blast
    Trumpet-Blast
  • Rest-Head
    Rest-Head
  • Musth-Temporal-Gland-Swelling
    Musth-Temporal-Gland-Swelling
  • Drinking
    Drinking
  • Mating-Pandemonium
    Mating-Pandemonium
  • Jolt
    Jolt
  • Submerge
    Submerge
  • Group-March
    Group-March
  • Musth-Walk
    Musth-Walk