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.

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