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.

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