COMMUNICATION



Touching is an important form of communication among elephants. Individuals greet each other by stroking or wrapping their trunks. Older elephants use trunk-slaps, kicks and shoves to discipline younger ones. Individuals of any age and sex will touch each other's mouths, temporal glands and genitals, particularly during meetings or when excited. This allows individuals to pick up chemical cues. Touching is especially important for mother-calf communication. When moving, elephant mothers will touch their calves with their trunks or feet when side-by-side or with their tails if the calf is behind them. If a calf wants to rest, it will press against its mother's front legs and when it wants to suckle, it will touch her breast or leg.

Elephants will try to appear more threatening by raising their heads while spreading their ears. They may add to the display by shaking their heads and snapping their ears, as well as throwing dust and vegetation. They are usually bluffing when performing these actions. Excited elephants may raise their trunks. Submissive ones will lower their heads and trunks, as well as flatten their ears against their necks, while those that accept a challenge will position their ears in a V shape. It is easy to assume that elephants speak to each other mostly by touch and sensations. They are able to chemically feel how another one is feeling. They are also able to use their body language to put on a show for the rest of their group in order to express feelings.

Besides for just physical things, elephants do make noises as well to communicate with each other. The most well-known noise is the trumpet which is made when an elephant is excited, distressed, or is feeling aggressive. Elephants have infrasonic calls that help for long-distance communication. For Asian Elephants, these calls have a frequency of 14-24 Hz, with sound pressure levels of 85-90 dB and last 10-15 seconds. For African Elephants, calls range from 15-35 Hz and can be as loud as 117 dB, allowing communication for many kilometers, with a possible maximum range of around 10 km (6 mi). A greeting rumble is emitted by members of a family group after having been separated for several hours. Contact calls are soft sounds made by individuals that have been separated from their group and may be responded to with a "contact answer" call that starts out loud, but becomes softer. A "let's go" soft rumble is emitted by the matriarch to signal to the other herd members that it is time to move to another spot.

b a c k   .   c l e a r   .   f o r w a r d