Classification of African elephant Loxodonta africana rumbles using acoustic parameters and cluster analysis

Jason D. Wood, Brenda Mccowan, William R. Langbauer, Jozua J. Viljoen, Lynette A Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that African savanna elephants Loxodonta africana produce 31 different call types (Langbauer 2000). Various researchers have described these calls by associating them with specific behavioural contexts. More recently Leong et al. (2003) have attempted to classify elephant call types based on their physical properties. They classified 8 acoustically distinct call types from a population of captive elephants. This study focuses on one of these call types, the rumble, in a wild population of elephants in Kruger National Park, South Africa. A single family group of elephants was followed to record group behaviours and vocalizations from January through August 2001. By measuring the physical properties of 663 rumbles and subjecting these to cluster analysis, we present evidence that shows that rumbles can be categorized by their physical properties and that the resulting rumble types are associated with specific group behaviours. We characterize three types of rumbles that differ significantly by ten acoustic parameters. Two rumble types were associated with the elephant group feeding and resting, while the third was associated with socializing and agitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-161
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


  • Acoustic communication
  • African elephant
  • Call categorization
  • Cluster analysis
  • Loxodonta africana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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