elephants sounds

  • References

    Acoustic (that is, sound) signals are omni directional (i.e. they travel in all directions) and can be broadcast to a large audience including intended and unintended listeners, and those in view and hidden from view. Being short-lived and deliberate, acoustic signals are useful for giving information about an immediate situation, rather than about a constant state. Through reflection, refraction and absorption, acoustic signals are degraded by the environment in ways that are often very much greater for high frequency sounds than for low frequency sounds. Elephants are specialists in the production of low frequency sound and in the use of long-distance communication. Check out some good examples on acoustic communication by elephants in article "What Elephant Calls Mean: A User's Guide" published by National Geographic in 2014, based on the work of ElephantVoices.

    The range of sounds elephants produce

    Erin vocalizes after mating with Ed. (©ElephantVoices) Elephants produce a broad range of sounds from very low frequency rumbles to higher frequency snorts, barks, roars, cries and other idiosyncratic calls. Asian elephants also produce chirps. The most frequently used category of calls, at least for African elephants, is the very low frequency rumble. You can search for, listen to and read about numerous sounds through in the Multimedia

  • Our long-term study of elephant social behavior, communication and cognition has centered around our work on elephants in Amboseli, Kenya. We have worked there in collaboration with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP) and affiliated scientists, Karen McComb, Lucy Bates, Beth Archie, Hamisi Mutinda, Graeme Shannon and Julie Hollister-Smith in a decades-long study of African savanna elephants. Our own data go back to 1975 when Joyce first joined the Amboseli project.

    Since 2000 we have concentrated our observations and recordings on the EB family, which was led by the famous matriarch, Echo, until she sadly died in May, 2009. These recordings make up a detailed part of our collection. In addition to data from Amboseli, we have recordings from shorter studies of elephants carried out in Tsavo National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Laikipia, Kenya. We have also made recordings and observations of Asian elephants in Ude Walawe, Wasgamua and Minneriya National Parks in Sri Lanka.

    In furthering our understanding of elephants and their communication, we have collaborated with scientists outside the realm of Amboseli, too. We worked with Katy Payne in describing the use of infrasound in African elephants. We collaborate with Caitlin O'Connell to further her

  • Dear Friend of ElephantVoices,

    For the first time you can Speak Elephant with your friends. You can share your message in a pretty cool way:-).

    Together with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, we’re launching Say Hello in Elephant to raise awareness and to showcase elephant communication. Our goal is to reach far and wide - during World Elephant Day, 12th August, and beyond.

    In the press release about this campaign ElephantVoices’ Joyce Poole states: "Elephants are awe-inspiring and every moment in their company brings joy. Unlocking their rich emotive communication and gaining deeper insight into their world is fascinating. Yet, elephants and their habitats are under assault, and we urgently need to change hearts and minds.”

    Say Hello in Elephant provides a little window into the complex communication of elephants. If you want to learn more, check out our elephant calls database. We are currently working on a major expansion of all our elephant behavior databases, and look forward to show you more during the coming year.

    More than ever we need your help to inspire people to do their utmost to stop the ivory trade and to ensure a future with space for elephants. Please consider supporting the work of

  • Dear Friend of ElephantVoices,

    We have created something special for you for Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday and the upcoming festive season.youtube arrow 140w

    We asked our followers on social media what comes to mind when they think of elephants. Answers included: Self-aware, brave, gentle giants, power of the feminine, wonder, courage, forgiveness, devoted, majestic, family, compassion, wisdom, strength, loyalty, kindness, love.

    We’ve been studying elephants for over 40 years. The video linked below is inspired by our ongoing scientific documentation of elephant behavior. With everything we've learned, we can't help but think that the world would be a kinder, more peaceful place if we all behaved more like elephants.

    We feel deep gratitude to ELEPHANTS, for what they have taught us and for what they mean to us. And we are grateful to ALL OF YOU for caring about them.

    Let's all aspire to #BehaveMoreElephant!

    A donation to ElephantVoices is deeply appreciated - via our donation page it will be done in a couple of minutes. If you plan to shop from Amazon - use our AmazonSmile link and Amazon will make a donation.

    In gratitude, Joyce and Petter

    The work of ElephantVoices is dependent on your support - please include ElephantVoices in your giving.
    Donate online, or

  • 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 can here on ElephantVoices find numerous elephant sounds, in fully searchable databases and elsewhere. Visit our Elephant

  • Amboseli elephant trumpet loudly - mock-charge-play-trumpet. (©ElephantVoices)Similar to the harmonic-play-trumpet, but exhibiting a more prolonged and resolute quality is a trumpet that is associated with Mock-Charging behavior.

    Cavorting elephants often chase other species in their environment (such as rabbits, hyenas, wildebeests, monkeys) during which they trumpet loudly.

    We term trumpets associated with this form of play, mock-charge-play-trumpets. These trumpets are significantly longer in duration than harmonic-play-trumpets.

  • References

    Context of Interactions

    Elephants are extremely tactile animals. They purposefully touch one another using their trunk, ears, tusks, feet, tail, and even their entire body. Tactile interactions between elephants occur during a broad range of contexts including aggressive, defensive, affiliative, sexual, playful, care-taking and exploratory behavior.

    Depending upon how their tusks are employed, elephants may use them to poke another aggressively, to gently lift a baby from a mud wallow, or to express solidarity during a greeting ceremony.

    Elephants often use their ears to rub against another affectionately or in play, or their tails to swat another with force or to gently check for the presence of a calf.

    An elephant's trunk may be used to caress, reassure or assist a calf, to explore the genitals, mouth or temporal glands of a family member, to touch or explore the body of a dead elephant, to touch or push another in play. In more aggressive or defensive contexts an elephant may use its trunk to slap or to block, or to reach out to another for reassurance when facing a predator. In sexual contexts elephants use their trunks to explore, to test or to control the movements of another.

    Elephants use