Asian Elephants are highly Communicative

Submitted by Naturenomics Team on Wed, 29/06/2016 - 10:52
Asian Elephants are highly Communicative

Vocal Cues:

  • Large repertoire of vocalizations, including:
  • Low frequency, long distance calls to maintain contact between roving individuals or groups
  • Close range, high pitched calls indicate mood
  • Loud trumpeting indicates alarm, surprise
  • Low snorts signal changes in immediate environment, alerting herd.

Tactile Cues:

  • Family members often touch while standing; may rub with a foot or slap with the trunk
  • Trunks are used in greeting: A lower-ranking animal will insert its trunk tip into the other’s mouth
  • Trunk may be held out to an approaching elephant as a greeting
  • Trunk is also used in caressing, twining, wrestling, and checking reproductive status
  • Mothers may guide their calf by gripping its tail.

Visual Cues:

  • Signal for hormonal state:
  • Bull's musth walk - head erect, ears wide, ear waves of one ear, a low pulsing growl
  • Trunk curling and uncurling
  • Urine dribble
  • Cow's estrous walk - looking back over shoulder as walk away.

Signals for apprehension/submission

  • Jaw out, touching one's own temporal gland or face
  • Trunk twitching back and forth
  • Swaying side to side
  • Backing into side of more dominant animal.

Olfaction/Scent Marking

  • Rely heavily on long lasting chemical cues, which travel over short or long distances
  • Lift trunks to detect wind-borne scents for first clues to sources of danger
  • Survival depends on reading scents of landscapes, pathways, mineral and salt sources, waterholes
  • Even after long separations, chemical cues help re-establish kin and friendship bonds
  • Sniff breath, mouths, temporal glands, genitals, urine and dung to determine emotional and physiological states of others.
  • Urine alone contains several thousand chemical compounds packed with messages
  • Sex pheromones allow determination of fitness and location of opposite sex.

Other senses:

  • Information from environment via low frequency ground vibrations may be first detected by elephant's feet and trunk tip
  • Distant thunderstorms, footsteps of running animals, vocalizations, that travel through ground
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