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 500 Behaviors and Behavioral Constellations included in The Elephant Ethogram - click on any image to find further documentation.

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