Elephants Call Out to Each Other By Name.

Ann Carriage
2 min readJun 14, 2024

Elephants are fascinating creatures. As the earth’s largest land mammals they a big part of highly social tribes and they have this extraordinary sixth sense.

Now for some new facts you may not know.

New research reveals wild African elephants pick names for their kind and use them to greet each other in the savanna.

So maybe they not names like Dumbo or Jumbo because to us they are just sounds, but they important ones that mean a great deal.

We learn that African elephants’ converse with each other in ways we have not seen before; at least for non- human animals.

First of all different types of rumbles were identified by researchers who made use of machine learning.

Then they were catalogued as; contact, greeting and caregiving. What they found was the animals use specific vocal sounds to identify one another.

Instead of just imitating a signal call, which is usual, they formed a different sound.

One animal behavioural specialist was to say; this might on the face of it seem obvious that they do this because you see a certain animal will respond. But no one has proved this till now.

While elephants are known for their loud trumpeting; their most common sound is a low-frequency rumble.

Some are so deep in fact that we can’t detect them. On the other hand elephants can pick up these rumbles from as far as 1.5 miles away. This is due to their unique ear anatomy.

For female elephants it is even more important; their extended family units split up then re-join on a regular basis.

This lets them follow food resources and avoid predators.

What is interesting in a field study where these sounds were replayed over speakers; the elephants only responded to the sound of their own names?

It is a recognizable response; their heads jerk up their ears spread out and their mouths open wide.

It was pointed out researchers could not pinpoint whether multiple elephants use the same name for any one individual. They also could not pick out specifically which part of the call contained the name. Many more studies are needed to nail it down. Never the less this is quite the revelation.

Yet we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to how elephants communicate.

This is but the first step.



Ann Carriage

Political animal, interested in the story behind the story. A concepts driven individual.