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.

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