Communication between animals of the same species in the wild is vital for their survival as they can convey important, and often life-saving information to one another.
Elephants are a relatively common sighting around Mhondoro, and it is fascinating to watch these gentle giants go about their daily business. It’s particularly interesting to watch how they communicate with one another.
Often, you’ll see elephants feeding in large herds, walking up to each other and giving a light touch of their trunk to say ‘hello ‘or to smell another elephant. You’ll also hear them making low guttural rumbles that most people may assume is just bowl activity, but this is in fact, to convey a specific message to the group.
When elephant herds are spread out over large areas an advanced method of communication is needed. They achieve this through rumbles that they produce using their highly advanced vocal cords, which travel seismically through the ground and are picked up by other elephants using their feet, up to distances of 8km away or more. Elephant feet are round, flat, highly sensitive and contain a thick layer of cartilage between the bone and the skin of the sole, which is perfectly designed for picking up these messages. Of course, these rumbles are inaudible to the human ear as they are out of the range of frequencies we can hear.
This explains why so often a herd will be feeding peacefully and suddenly, all stop, turn and move off without any apparent signal given. Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures in general, but they truly are masters of communication!