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.

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