The use of chemical or olfactory cues is central to communication between elephants. They often raise their trunks up to sniff the air, or use the tips of their trunks to explore the ground (especially for urine spots, urine trails and fecal matter) as well as to sniff the genitals, temporal glands, or mouths of other elephants. Chemical communication provides an energetically efficient and long-lasting signal.
Sources of odours
Sources of odours used in chemical communication between elephants include urine, faeces, saliva and secretions from the temporal gland, a large multi-lobed sac with an orifice mid-way between the ear and eye.
Elephants may also use secretions from the tarsal or Meibomian glands and interdigital glands in communication, and they are frequently observed with secretions from the ears which are also likely to convey information.
Sense of smell
Elephants have a keen sense of smell and just as we use our sight an elephant makes use of her sense of smell constantly. When we want to learn more about what an elephant is thinking or where her attention is directed, we look not at her gaze (as we would with a person), but at the tip of her trunk. The tip