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