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.

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