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 500 Behaviors and Behavioral Constellations included in The Elephant Ethogram - click on any image to find further documentation.

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