From the warmth of the bonfire to the smack of wine on the palate, the sight of animals at the waterhole to scents of wilderness all around, travelers can expect stimulation for all the senses at Thanda Safari. But while every guest has hopes of seeing extraordinary wildlife – especially the Big Five – hearing wildlife in its natural environment can be just as memorable and rewarding.

We’ve gone to extraordinary length while recording the Thanda bush library. Our resident sound recordist faces many challenges, including the risk of disturbing wildlife by his presence. This is exacerbated by the fact that microphones have far shorter ranges than camera lenses forcing him to stay within the rather limited range of his microphone.

Join us for a listen! Sound is a remarkable quality, and those from nature have a profound impact on the brain, affecting emotions, heightening productivity, and literally drawing us toward them – or pushing us away from – the sonic pleasantness and ferocity we perceive. Here is a sampling recorded at Thanda Safari, with imagery and sound recordings by our resident wildlife photographer and field guide Christian Sperka.

Caution: Please turn the volume on your device down before you start playing the sounds and then adjust the volume as needed. Some of these sounds are rather loud (+), others are softer (-)!

Cape Turtle Dove

Also known as ring-necked doves for the partial collar of black feathers on the lower nape, these avian beauties are abundant in East and Southern Africa and can often be seen in flocks sipping at the waterhole at Thanda Safari. They can be quite vocal in groups, with a range of calls including a loud and harsh “kuk-COORRRR-uk,” often repeated dozens of times; a raspy, snarling “koooorr” upon settling on a perch; and more. The soothing sound heard here sounds like satisfaction to us. (-)

Black-Backed Jackal

Found in various regions of Africa including the continent’s southernmost tip, this ancient species has changed little over the ages. That longevity hasn’t given the Black-Backed Jackal much talent for polite conversation, however: It’s sounds include yelling, yelping, woofing, whining, growling and cackling, as well as a high-pitched howl to announce its presence, and an explosive cry followed by shorter, high-pitched yelps. See if you can figure out what’s on this Black-Backed Jackal’s mind? (-)


Sure, they’re speedy, but the world’s fastest land animal is also a chatty cat with a wide variety of vocalizations including growling, moaning, bleating, chirping, churring, and whirring. Mothers have special vocalizations including “ihn ihn” to gather their cubs, and “prr prr” to guide them on a journey. Cheetah also purr when content or greeting friends, just like that little ball of fluff running around your house. (-)

African Elephant

“Honey, you were snoring like an ELEPHANT last night.” “Oh, no, darling – that was YOU!” How the world’s largest terrestrial animals get any sleep is anybody’s guess, but snoring is just one of the sounds that African Bush Elephants can make, including trumpet blasts through the trunk; roaring and squealing while fighting; bellowing when wounded; and infrasonic rumbles during arousal, which can carry up to 10 kilometers / 6 miles. (+)



Everybody knows that lions roar. Or, make that, “ROAAAAAR!” But the king and queen of the jungle have a whole lot of sounds to go around including growling, snarling, meowing, purring, puffing, bleating and humming. Whether roaring or ROAAAAARing, their trademark is most often heard at night and can reach a distance of up to 8 kilometers / 5 miles. (+)

Red-Billed Quelea

This migratory, sparrow-like bird of the weaver family makes a lot of noise, though it doesn’t have a whole lot to say. Flying flocks, which generally head out at sunrise to find food before the day heats up as well as in the evening after the day cools down, are distinguished by the sound of many beating wings. Upon reaching a nest site, they take a good half-hour to settle down, chattering and then singing in short bursts followed by warbles that go “tweedle-toodle-tweedle”. (+)

White Rhinoceros

The largest species of rhinoceros has a wide mouth for grazing and love to hang out with others. It offers an array of sounds including panting, grunts, snorts, squeals of distress, snarls and shrieks, as well as deep bellows and growls that say, “I feel threatened!” Of course, no human is ever going to threaten a rhino at Thanda Safari. So in the spirit of getting along and getting together, here’s the soothing sound of a White Rhino grazing. (-)

All sounds on this page were recorded at Thanda Safari and all pictures were taken on the reserve. Christian Sperka Photography


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