An African safari is a #1 bucket list item for many people, but due to Covid-19, no one wants a long plane trip right now. While waiting for a safer time to plan a game-viewing safari, there’s no reason travelers can’t listen to the real calls of elephants and lions and more. Sounds of Thanda Safari, an online “sound adventure” is a series of sound recordings created to engage listeners with the real sounds of wildlife in its natural environment in Zululand, South Africa.
Thanda Safari (which will re-open this month), is a luxurious Big Five game reserve on 35,000 acres in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Their resident wildlife photographer/field guide/audio engineer Christian Sperka has been commissioned to compile recordings for Thanda’s sound library. For now, listeners can hear sounds of seven different species of wildlife: the African Bush elephant, a mother cheetah gathering her cubs, a white rhinoceros grazing, a black-backed jackal announcing its arrival, a Cape turtle dove, male and female a lion, and the red-billed quelea, a sparrow-like bird native to sub-Saharan Africa.
“Many people think that animals make a lot of sounds but unlike humans most creatures only make sounds when it benefits them,” says Sperka, “In the wild being noisy is usually a disadvantage. Prey animals give themselves away to predators and predators announce themselves to prey if they are noisy. Neither is in either’s interest. But there are occasions when sounds become important. It is usually to attract sexual partners, to assert one’s territory or call one’s mum or offspring.”
While you’re waiting for the pandemic to end, you don’t have to travel anywhere. Just sit back and enjoy Thanda Safari’s Armchair Sound Safari:
The African Bush Elephant
The African Bush elephant sounds like a noisy car engine while sleeping, but that is actually the snoring sound of a younger Elephant lying on its side while sleeping. Older Elephants sleep standing up. But snoring is just one sound that the elephant makes It can also make trumpet blasts through its trunk. It roars and squeals while fighting, bellows when wounded, and rumbles during arousal, a sound which can carry up to six miles. Listen to the snoring African Bush elephant.
The main function of a Lion’s roar is to announce its presence as the holder of a territory. Often, there is an answering chorus from other males far away. It also announces the presence of a male to a potential sexual partner. Lions roar but also growl, snarl, meow, purr, puff, blat and hum. Listen to the roaring lion.
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal. A Mother Cheetah has special vocalizations including an “ihn ihn” sound to gather her cubs and “prr prrr” to guide them on a journey. Cheetahs also purr when content or greeting friends. Listen to this male cheetah calling for its temporarily lost coalition partner (another male).
The White Rhinoceros
The White Rhinoceros has an array of sounds including panting, grunting, snorting, squeals of distress, snarling, shrieking, deep bellowing and growling when threatened. Listen to a mother White Rhino with her calf.
The black backed Jackal
The Black-Backed Jackal is an ancient species that has changed little over the ages. Its sounds includes yelping, woofing, whining, growling, cackling and a high pitched howl to announce its presence as well as an explosive cry followed by shorter high-pitched yelps to call its’ partner. Listen to the Jackal here.
Formerly called Cape Turtle Dove, this dove calls to attract a mate, communicate with a selected mate and to chase other doves away. The Ring-necked dove also has a soothing sound. Listen here.
While you’re waiting for Covid-19 to end to book an in-person African safari, you can listen to the various calls of some of the areas most beloved animals and birds. Says photographer/guide Sperka, “ Sometimes I have my guests close their eyes for a few minutes, ask them to be quiet, and let the bush sounds sink in. Through a sound library, I can share a few of these special bush sounds with followers and friends all over the world.”