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.

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