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.

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