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.

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