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.

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