Elephant Communication Non Vocal

For many decades, experts and enthusiasts alike have conducted research (both formally and informally) in order to gain a deeper understanding of the elephant's abilities to communicate with one another in a meaningful and genuine way. However, these magnificent animals have managed to maintain the mystery around their unique capabilities.

Their clan-style family structure is relatively complex, so elephants rely on an equally intricate communication system to ascertain roles and responsibilities within the herd or clan.

Communication amongst these impressive animals is used to convey information regarding location, social structure and ecology. However, it is also used to convey emotions and thoughts to others, creating close bonds that may last a lifetime.

An elephants will use its communication faculty to warn others of potential dangers, to organise the group for mass movement, to attract elephants of the opposite sex, to secure defence, and to reinforce family bonds. Needs and desires are also communicated to other members of the herd in this way.

The basic language structure of the elephant is thought to comprise 160 signals, gestures and expressions (non-vocal). These are coupled with some 70 vocal sounds.

Tactile communication is of utmost importance to elephants. Members of different elephants groups will frequently touch one another lightly as they pass in the wild. They will also caress and touch members of their own herd lovingly with their strong trunks, smelling them all the while. These displays of affection and the constant touching of one another's bodies enforce close herd- and family bonds. Being their main organ of smell and touch, the trunk plays an integral role in this relationship-forming.

Not only are the trunks useful for picking up objects, food and water, but also for caressing and fondling other elephants. Even while courting, the bull will frequently plait his trunk with that of the cow as an indication of his affection. When a herd stumbles across the skeleton of another elephant, the members will caress and smell the bones with their trunks in mourning for their loss.

Another way in which elephants may communicate without using their voices is by seismic vibrations. These are sensed either through the soft padding on the feet, or through the trunk, which is laid on the ground for such a purpose.

These vibrations may indicate any number of things to the elephant detecting them, and this beast will communicate the next course of action to other members of the herd.

One non-vocal method of communication that has become a distinct behavioural pattern for elephants is that of synchronised freezing. On suspicion of pending danger, every member of the herd or clan will freeze in unison. This enables them to focus all of their senses and attention on unfamiliar smells and sounds around them.

Although we have a very basic understanding of the close bonds established through complex communication amongst these undeniably intelligent creatures, this knowledge allows us an intriguing glimpse into their mysterious insight and strongly entrenched relationships.