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.

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