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.

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