Sounds of This Place: the African Bush

Quick, run and get a headset.  This one is almost impossible to hear using my laptop speakers but even cheapie earphones work pretty well.

It’s taken more than a year to collect the following recordings; I don’t know why the animals don’t speak on command….  Much of the recordings were taken from our tent in the middle of the night when the beasts started barking/growling/snorting.  Sometimes I fell asleep with the recorder running and only in the past two days have discovered what transpired while we slept.  I’ve sifted through hours of recordings, letting the night sounds be background noise while I work, make dinner, or read a book, and jumping for a pen when I hear jackals or lions announce themselves, noting the time for later editing.

If you want to test your wildlife knowledge, don’t scroll down too far until you’re ready to check your guesses!

0:00 KC, waking in the middle of the night to find me with the recorder in hand, capturing a mysterious animal nearby. I swear it sounds like a baboon, but at 3 am?! (Mapungubwe National Park, South Africa)

0:14 Birds (South Africa)

0:29 Jackals? (Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana)

0:35 Lion (Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana)

0:42 Dueling lion vocalizations. Actually this is two separate recordings, months apart, but overlaying them is a good approximation of when they’re calling back and forth over a distance. (Kruger National Park, South Africa)

1:18 Hyenas? with lion in distance (Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana)  We often heard these together so I wonder if there’s been a kill and the hyenas are impatient for the lions to finish eating…

1:53 Birds (Zambia)

1:59 Hippos (Kruger National Park, South africa)

2:15 Impala bucks sparring (Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Botswana/South Africa)

2:22 Herd of elephants playing and drinking in a water hole (Etosha National Park, Namibia)


  1. Marley · · Reply

    Cool! The lions sounded really close by

    1. The loudest one was very close by – on the other side of the water hole where we were sleeping! The others were probably 3-5 km away.

  2. Hearing the lions roar was spectacular! Never knew what a hippo sounds like til now. Not sure about the first sound.

    1. The first time we heard it we weren’t sure what it was but now it’s unmistakable! And even from a distance you almost feel it before your ears catch it. That first sound is a mystery – it sounds like a baboon barking but I don’t think they’re nocturnal and this was a 3 am recording. Leopards can make a “coughing” sound but I’ve never heard it so I don’t know if that’s the sound…

  3. Close my eyes and I was there! All the sounds are so familiar it’s wonderful to hear them. Where are you now? How much longer are you travelling for?

    1. Maybe you can confirm/correct some of my questionable identifications… ??? Not sure about the jackal/hyena sounds from a distance, and we never saw any of them vocalizing so it’s only a guess. We’re spending a final week in the big city (Jo’burg) before going back to the US for a few weeks. Then it’s on to Korea and Asia for the rest of the year! It will be your turn to post from Africa and make me homesick…

      1. Its almost over then! What was your best and worst moments? Are you selling the 4×4 before you go home or storing it for next time! I have to wait until September to make you jealous. Safe journey home. C

  4. I guess that in the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion did not sleep that night.


    1. Oh. My. God. You must be so pleased with yourself.

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