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.

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