Elephants live in mile-long savannahs or tree-filled rainforests. People tend to ask, how do elephants communicate when they can live far apart from each other? Or, how are they able to warn each other of potential dangers?
The answer is that elephants have a variety of ways to communicate. These large mammals have developed both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Their unique abilities help them survive potential dangers. Here are some Asian and African elephant facts about how they communicate.
Just like any animal, elephants can communicate using distinct sounds. These large mammals use distinct sounds to speak and warn each other. They can produce rumbles, snorts, barks, roars and cries. These creatures also produce low and high-frequency sounds.
Even the sounds between African and Asian elephants can be distinct. One of the least known African elephant facts is that they can produce low rumbling sounds that can travel distances. On the other hand Asian elephants can create chirping sounds.
Elephants can produce these sounds thanks to their vocal cords. Depending on what tone they are trying to make, they can lengthen or shorten their vocal cords. By doing this action, they are also able to change the sound frequencies.
Believe it or not, but African and Asian elephants can pick-up vibrations using their feet. A researcher from Stanford University discovered that elephants can feel the low rumble or foot stomps with their feet.
How is this possible, you ask? Well, elephants have sensitive nerve endings on their feet that allow them to pick-up frequencies from other herds or members. The sound of other rumbles or stomps is picked up from their toenails and then makes its way into their ear.
Being able to detect sounds through the ground is important for this species. It allows elephants to communicate with other elephants. When elephants are far distances they can send signals when danger approaches, where water or food is near. It’s also believed that elephants can hear storms.
Not only do elephants communicate with sound and feet, but also through movements. Researchers like, Petter Granli and Joyce Poole, found that these giant mammals can interact through gestures. In other words, they have a sign language.
To ordinary people, an elephant folding its ears or taking a step back can mean nothing. But, it means something to one another and other species.
Just like humans, elephants use non-verbal communication. According to National Geographic, they intimidate and show aggression by spreading their ears, standing tall and lifting their tusks. When these large mammals are playful, they can climb-on and start to bob their heads.
Elephants’ special communication skills can help them survive many dangers like poachers. One of the most important African elephant facts is that they are still at risk of being killed in the wild or losing their habitats. If you would like to help to save the elephants, support our research and conservation action for elephants in Africa, you can make a small donation or shop our apparel.