Can Elephants Talk to Each Other?

This is something I have witnessed on many occasions. A group of elephants, all browsing happily in the scrub. One though, decides to wander off and explore. Soon, about a kilometre away from the group, he comes across some fruit on a small tree, well out of sight of the group.
He samples the fruit and finds it immensely pleasing.

Let me side-track for a moment.

Elephant communicate, not only through the low-frequency rumbles we all know about, but can also pick up those powerful signals through their feet. There’s a fatty cushion in their feet which acts almost lie a microphone.


The sound that travels through the ground has a much longer range than the sub-audible (to humans) rumbles that are received by their ears.
Look at the picture of the elephant foot cross-section. Note how they walk on tip-toe!

Back to the fruit-eating elephant.

He really enjoys his surprise find, and, because he’s a really nice guy, decides to share with a friend.

So a series of rumbles issue forth, travelling through the air and through the ground, to be picked up by the entire group in the distance.
Nothing of interest there, really, is there?

But ….. only one elephant from the group ambles over to the fruit-eater and they both gorge themselves on fruit.

This now begs the question: Did the fruit-eater call to his particular friend, asking to come and join him?

Do elephants have names
How did one elephant in the group, all hearing the same rumbles, move away from the group and go to his friend?

We know that elephants have a large vocabulary with which they signal to each other, but could it, possibly, be classed as a real language?

There is a fascinating research project here for someone to pick up on.

Go and live with the elephants with equipment that can ‘hear’ those infra-sounds, decipher it, decode it, and let us all know how the elephants do it.


About msomiafrica

Author, photographer and conservationist who sincerely prefers interacting with animals rather than people.
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