How elephants communicate

The meaning of the different elephant calls, for those who have always wanted to "speak elephant".

Elephants produce a vast and varied repertoire of sounds (snorts, grunts, barks, cries, trumpets), ranging from powerful trump sounds to weak, low-pitched calls at very low frequencies and even infrasounds (frequencies below 50 Hz, which we humans cannot perceive as sound but only as vibration and elephants use for long distance communication).

A group of elephant specialists and National Geographic recently developed a new study making thousands of recordings and observing and associating sound with body language and group behavior.

The study is published here:

Sound archive:

Encounter with the elephants.

The meeting lasts a few minutes. We stand still, observing and listening to the low-pitched sounds and the trumpet calls of different tone and intensity mainly emitted by a female, probably the leader of the group. The group seems to ponder the situation. They finally decide to move away.

The file can be heard in the CD: Scenes of the African savannah

Also available for Download

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Encounter with the elephants
Lloc: N.P. Amboseli, Kenya
Data: 2003